Blame choices, not the economy

We’re getting fatter, and we’re blaming it on the poor economy and all the stress we’re under.

That’s the report from CareerBuilder, which recently surveyed 4,800 workers online. Forty-four percent of the people responding said they gained weight during their current jobs, with 28 percent saying they gained more than 10 pounds.

“Especially in this economy, it is easier to pick up unhealthy eating habits in the office as workers spend more time on heavier workloads and less time on themselves,” said Rosemary Haefner of CareerBuilder.

In addition to the bad economy and the resultant stress, the workers also said sitting at the desk most of the day, eating out regularly and going to workplace celebrations such as potlucks and birthdays played a role.

There were some gender differences.

Half the women said they’d gained weight in comparison to 39 percent of the men. Thirty percent of women gained more than 10 pounds, compared to 23 percent of the men.

Women were more likely to want to do something about the weight gain, with 11 percent working out during lunch compared to 8 percent of the men.

Haefner recommended these tips for people who want to lose some weight:

  • Set an eating schedule for your workday.

    Pack a healthy lunch and snacks.

    Find a weight-loss buddy in the office.

    Go the extra mile. Go visit people in the office instead of e-mailing. Take the stairs. Get off the bus or train a stop sooner so you can walk further.

    Good advice.

    I also wish that so many businesses stopped making ridiculously bad food for us or that at least we would stop buying it in such huge numbers.

    You don’t have to go any further for evidence of those bad choices than an item that came on the news wire on the same day I saw the CareerBuilder survey.

    It was a story from the Associated Press about the huge popularity of KFC’s Double Down sandwich and how the company planned to keep it around longer because it was so popular. It had been scheduled to end on Sunday, but it’s already back by popular demand.

    The Double Down, for those who don’t know, is bacon and cheese sandwiched between two fried chicken filets. There’s no bun involved.

    KFC said it’s been its most successful sandwich ever. It expects to sell 10 million of them, and the sandwich just made its debut April 12.

    Double Downs have 540 calories, 32 grams of fat, and 1,380 milligrams of salt; there’s a grilled version with only 460 calories, but it pumps up the salt to 1,430 milligrams.

    The American Heart Association recommends less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day, so with one Double Down, you’re pretty much good to go right there.

    If meat is not your cup of tea, you might be more interested in IHOP’s version of the Double Down — also a limited-time menu item that features cheesecake sandwiched between two pancakes with strawberries, blueberries or apples and a whipped topping.

    It’s called Pancake Stackers.

    IHOP didn’t provide individual nutrition information, but a combo meal with Pancake Stackers, two eggs, bacon and hash browns runs 1,250 calories.

    I haven’t tried either of these so-called sandwiches. But I’m likely to try just about anything with bacon, so let’s hope their limited availability expires before my willpower.

    I think I know why many in our work force are overweight. And it’s not the recession and its not all the extra stress. It’s eating too darn much of the wrong thing.

    Mike Benbow: 425-339-3459; benbow@heraldnet.com.