Does This Desk Make Me Look Fat?

By CHERY SABOL for the Missoula Job Service

A study by CareerBuilder this spring revealed the unwelcome news that almost half of the people surveyed have gained weight at work and 30 percent who have gained weight put the damage at more than 20 pounds. It’s not clear to me how those gains are attributed to the job and not to other factors, but the study breaks down careers in which gains were most often reported.

So, beware administrative assistants. Your career tops the list, but you are in good company. Engineers, teachers, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, and IT managers/network administrators make the top five on the list. Relieved that your job isn’t there? Not so fast, legal professionals. You, scientists and machine operators/production workers round out the jobs where weight gain is most common.

The study involved about 4,000 full-time workers who are not self-employed and do not work for government. Sitting at a desk most of the day was the most common reason they gave for plumping up. Stress eating, meals out, the clarion call of the office candy jar, and skipping meals were also cited. Workplace celebrations, notorious for their calorie content, and delicious treats brought in by co-workers (I’m looking at you, Laurie) are other temptations. A small percent of respondents, living in some parallel universe, found happy hours responsible for their weight gain.

None of this should deter job seekers in the market for a good administrative-assistant position or teaching job. Entire web sites and businesses are built around helping workers counter the effects of sedentary jobs. Career advice on has numerous articles about staying fit on the job. Most stress simple remedies, such as parking a little farther from the office, walking over to talk to a co-worker instead of e-mailing, and using breaks or lunch time for exercise, even if it’s just a 10-minute walk inside or off-site. Others suggest packing a lunch and portioned snacks for the workday.


One of the perks employees want most: An on-site gym

More employers are responding to workers’ concerns about inactivity. An AOL Jobs story last year reported that, “According to the Towers Watson annual employer survey, the number of companies offering financial incentives to get healthier has nearly doubled, from 36 percent in 2009 to 61 percent.” Another CareerBuilder survey in January found that when workers were asked to identify one perk that would make their workplace more satisfying, 20 percent wanted an on-site gym. So, we’ve seen the advent of the FitDesk, which combines a stationary bike with a work surface, and treadmill desks, such as those provided by DairyQueen to its corporate workers in Edina, Minn.

Where I work, several people model the low-tech fitness approach – using short breaks and lunchtime for walks around the neighborhood. They take the opportunity to get out of the office, to enjoy each other’s company, and hopefully, to stay off of CareerBuilder’s list of careers that redefine the term “gainful employment.”


Looking for a job in Missoula? Be sure to check out our Missoula Job Listings.  Be sure you “LIKE” the Missoula Job Service Facebook Page for daily post on job opening. You’ll also find Missoula-area information on Job Hunting ResourcesJob Hunting Tips, Job Interview Tips, tips for writing Cover Letters and Resumes.


Chery Sabol is an employment consultant at the Missoula Job Service, an organization that offers programs and services to assist employers and job seekers alike. Those looking for employment can view job openings on our job board, website, and social media outlets. Employment consultants provide résumé reviews, conduct practice interviews, and offer skills testing.

The Job Service also provides a self-service area where job seekers have access to phones, a fax machine, a copier, and computers. Our qualified staff also offers business consulting services, including employee recruitment and retention assistance. Additionally, we provide financial support for businesses looking to train both new and current employees.

We are here to help our community!