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More Than 2 in 5 Workers Have Gained Weight at Their Current Job, Finds CareerBuilder Survey

  • Women (49 percent) are more likely than men (39 percent) to report gaining weight
  • While a quarter of employees have access to employer-sponsored wellness benefits, 55 percent of this group does not take advantage of them
  • Fewer than half of workers with extremely low stress levels (41 percent) feel they are overweight compared to 77 percent of workers with extremely high stress levels

CHICAGO – April 7, 2016 – Feel like you’re gaining weight sitting behind your desk? You’re not alone. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 55 percent of U.S. workers feel they are overweight, and 44 percent of workers say they’ve gained weight in their present job. Twenty-five percent reported gaining more than 10 pounds, while 17 percent of workers say they’ve lost weight.

When asked what they felt contributed to their weight gain at their current job, 53 percent said “sitting at the desk most of the day,” 45 percent said they are “too tired from work to exercise,” and 36 percent of workers said “eating because of stress.”

The national survey was conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll between February 10 and March 17, 2016 and included a representative sample of more than 3,000 full-time, U.S. workers in the private sector across industries and company sizes.

Is stress to blame?

Survey results reveal a strong association between on-the-job stress levels and workers who say they are overweight. Fewer than half of workers (41 percent) with extremely low stress levels feel they are overweight compared to 77 percent of workers with extremely high stress levels. Meaning, workers who say they have extremely high on-the-job stress are 53 percent more likely to say they’re overweight than workers who say they have extremely low stress.

Stress Level of Worker

Extremely low




Extremely High

% Overweight






In effort to help promote healthy living at the office, some employers have put wellness initiatives in place. Still, while a quarter of employees (25 percent) have access to employer sponsored wellness benefits, including onsite workout facilities and gym passes, 55 percent of this group does not take advantage of them.

“Workers are becoming more and more health conscious, but due to higher stress, longer work days and constant multitasking, it is more difficult to find the time to act on wellness goals,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “To make wellness at work a priority, companies should emphasize its importance from top leadership down and focus on engagement, motivation, support and strategy when implementing new programs.”

You are what you eat

Survey data show that workers who managed to lose weight at their current job tend to snack and eat out less, exercise more and take advantage of their employers’ wellness benefits. Even leaving one’s desk for lunch may encourage healthier habits.

Have Lost Weight at Current Job

Have Gained Weight at Current Job

Eat takeout or dine out at least once week for lunch



Snack at work



Eat lunch at desk



Take advantage of company gym or wellness benefits*



Exercise three or more times a week



*Only employees of companies that offered wellness benefits/gym memberships are included.

Who’s gaining the “office 15”?

Industry/Job type: Workers in certain industries and occupations are more likely to have gained weight at their present job:

  • Transportation: 49 percent
  • Health care: 48 percent
  • Financial services: 46 percent
  • Sales: 46 percent
  • Retail: 40 percent
  • Manufacturing: 39 percent
  • IT: 38 percent

Gender: Women (49 percent) are more likely than men (39 percent) to report gaining weight at their present jobs.

Job-level: Workers in management roles (49 percent) are somewhat more likely than workers in non-management roles (43 percent) to report weight gains at their present jobs.

Age: Workers in the middle of their careers appear more prone to weight gain than younger or mature workers. Forty-seven percent of workers ages 35-54 reported gaining weight at their present job, compared to 40 percent of workers ages 18-34 and 43 percent of workers 55 and older.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 3,031 workers ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between February 10 and March 17, 2016 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 3,031, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.78 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About CareerBuilder®

As the global leader in human capital solutions, CareerBuilder specializes in cutting-edge HR software as a service to help companies with every step of the recruitment process from acquire to hire. CareerBuilder works with top employers across industries, providing job distribution, sourcing, workflow, CRM, data and analytics in one pre-hire platform. It also operates leading job sites around the world. Owned by TEGNA Inc. (NYSE:TGNA), Tribune Media (NYSE:TRCO) and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

Media Contact

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CareerBuilder Media Contact
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