Teachers, administrative assistants and engineers are more likely to put on weight, according to a new study released by CareerBuilder in May.

The national study found that 41% of people have gained weight because of the type of job they do. They are more likely to have higher rates of weight gain if their job requires that they sit at their desk all day or have high stress levels in their job.

Administrative assistants, engineers, teachers, nurse practitioners, IT managers, legal professionals, production workers and scientists were among professions that had the highest reports of weight gain, according to the CareerBuilder survey.

However, although a sedentary career can add significant weight gain over the years, this process is not irreversible. There are many ways that a sedentary work and home life can be overcome simply be using some of the mind games included in the DietAssist programme.

Lisa, who took the DietAssist challenge with us in March, noticed how her activity level increased significantly over the 6 weeks of the challenge. During this period she found it easy to lose a stone in weight, even though she continued to do her sedentary job.

Because the DietAssist programme helps people change key thoughts and beliefs in an easy and simple way, most people do not notice the change. It is only on reflection, like in Lisa’s case, where the behavioural change becomes apparent. Suddenly without realising it she had dropped more weight than she had done in years and seemingly without any significant changes to her lifestyle. Of course, when a new behaviour becomes part of normal everyday life it feels natural.

The national survey from February 11 to March 6 2013, included more than 3,600 full-time workers.

Professions that often involve high stress levels or long hours behind a desk had a higher percentage of workers putting on extra pounds. Among those most likely to report weight gain are:

  • Administrative Assistant (69%)
  • Engineer (56%)
  • Teacher/Instructor (51%)
  • Nurse Practitioner or Doctors Assistant (51%)
  • IT Manager/Network Administrator (51%)
  • Lawyer/Judge/ Legal Professional (48%)
  • Machine Operator/Assembly/Production Worker (45%)
  • Scientist, Biological/Physical/Social (39%)

The survey concluded that the most common causes of workplace weight gain were a sedentary all-day desk lifestyle, stress eating and food found at the office, including celebrations and workplace treats provided by co-workers.

Causes of Weight Gain

Sedentary jobs, the readily available junk food and time pressures that lead to inappropriate eating behaviours can make it difficult to stay fit. In the study workers highlighted the following reasons for an expanding waistline:

  • Sitting at my desk most of the day – 56%
  • Eating because of stress – 35%
  • Eating out regularly – 26%
  • The temptation of the office candy jar – 17%
  • Having to skip meals because of time constraints – 17%
  • Workplace celebrations (potlucks, birthdays) – 17%
  • Pressure to eat food co-workers bring in – 9%
  • Happy hours – 4%

Lunch and Snack Habits

Portion control and calorie counting is a challenge if most of your food intake purchased is in ready made form, such as takeaways, sandwiches and snack food. Over half (54%) of workers go out to eat at least once a week, and a quarter (24%) eat out three or more times a week. 8% say they eat lunch from the vending machine at least once every week, while 70% of those surveyed admit to snacking during the day.

Exercise Habits

While over half of workers felt they were overweight, 3 in 5 (59%) say they work out regularly, with 45% using the gym at least 3 times a week. 42% of workers get their workout in after leaving work, compared to 16% exercising before going to the office and 8% exercising during lunchtime. 30% say they exercise, but not regularly, and 11% don’t exercise at all.

3 in 10 workers said their companies provide wellness benefits, such as workout facilities or gym passes. Of these workers, 36% take advantage of them.