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John's Blog: Is your job adding on the pounds?

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Over your career have your jobs become more and more sedentary? Part of the reason Americans have been gaining so much weight is that our jobs require less activity and more sitting.

In reviewing energy expenditure since 1960, scientists report that men are burning an average 140 fewer daily calories on the job; for women, it's 124 fewer calories a day.

The obesity epidemic has largely been blamed on overeating, but this research also implicates a switch from jobs in factories and farms to office work. In the early 1960s, 48% of the jobs in private industry required at least moderate physical activity, but today that has dropped to 20%.

The researchers note that, "This reduction in occupational energy expenditure accounts for a large portion of the observed increase in mean US weight over the last five decades." A US Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 6.5% of US adults currently get enough physical activity on the job alone to meet current guidelines.

America and many other developed countries are experiencing an obesity and overweight epidemic. We are constantly being told that we eat too much and do not exercise enough. This may be true, but these studies tell us that part of the problem is the societal change in the kind of work necessary in today's world.

To compensate for the reduction in energy burned during our working day we must either eat fewer calories or burn more calories, or we will naturally gain weight over our lifetime. The Y is a great resource to find an activity to burn those extra calories to balance the fewer calories expended on the job.