Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Study Claims Office Jobs Cause Men To Gain Weight

A new study from Australia suggests men who work in an office all day are more likely to become overweight because of their "sedentary" environment.

In the August 2005 edition of The American Journal of Preventative Medicine, lead researcher Dr. Kerry Mummery from The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia said inactivity because of sitting in front of a computer all day has created "a potentially hostile environment in terms of overweight and obesity."

Observing 1,579 Australian men and women who have full-time office jobs which require them to sit for extended periods of time, Dr. Mummery found that men sat an average of 209 minutes per day compared with 189 minutes per day for women.

Dr. Mummery and his team concluded that those 20 extra minutes of sitting per day by men led to a correlating 68 percent chance of an increase in their body mass index. The women in the study did not have a similar rise in obesity rates, the researchers revealed.

The conclusion of the study was to challenge employers to "be more proactive in the health of their employees by promoting physical activity at work” to improve worker productivity.

I personally have an office job whereby I sit in front of a computer screen all day long. Of course, if you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I lost 180 pounds in 2004 following a low-carb lifestyle and have kept it off. The results of this study are certainly typical for someone with an office job, but I don't think you can necessarily blame the job for high obesity rates among men who work behind a desk.

As someone who has worked in an office environment for many years, I know the temptation is there to mindlessly munch on junk food and sip on sugary sodas all day to help get you through the day. Of course, now that I'm livin' la vida low-carb, that munching is a lot healthier than it used to be with nuts, low-carb chocolate, diet sodas and water. But the overeating factor can quite possibly play a role in the obesity rates of office workers.

When it comes to inactivity, again you cannot blame the job. Instead, the individual worker needs to make time to get up and get moving throughout the day. Since I drink so much water and diet soda, I get a lot of exercise during frequent bathroom breaks. These not only allow me to take care of my business, but I can stretch and move my body so I don't get all stiff. In fact, I go to my local YMCA during my lunch breaks to get in a cardio workout on the elliptical. Now how's that for spending your lunch hour productively?!

While a desk job is not going to help you burn calories or encourage healthy eating habits, I don't buy the assertion that having one necessarily causes you to become obese. I've bucked that trend myself with my lifestyle choices and others can do the same for themselves. I can respect the work Dr. Mummery and his staff of researchers have made on this subject, but I think I will respectfully disagree with their consensus that men who work in an office job are prone to becoming obese. It is not a foregone conclusion.

Feel free to share your thoughts about this study in an e-mail to Dr. Mummery at

07/21/2005 UPDATE: The author of this study was kind enough to e-mail me the following brief response to this blog entry about his research:

Thanks for your interest in our work. I appreciate the debate you are promoting.



Professor Kerry Mummery, PhD
Director, Centre for Social Science Research
Central Queensland University
Rockhampton, Queensland

Thank you for your research, Dr. Mummery. Together we can grab this obesity monster by the horns and slay him once and for all. :-)


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