Your health: Is work making you fat?

  • In a recent study, workers who spent long hours sitting at a desk and had high stress levels were more likely to gain weight.

    In a recent study, workers who spent long hours sitting at a desk and had high stress levels were more likely to gain weight. Thinkstock photo

 
Posted1/26/2015 5:45 AM

Weighty matters: Is work making you fat?

Are you packing on pounds while climbing the corporate ladder?

 

If so, you're in good company: in a 2013 Harris Interactive survey of more than 3,000 workers conducted for CareerBuilder, 41 percent of respondents said they'd gained weight in their current jobs. ABC News and Health.com reports.

Workers who spend long hours sitting at a desk (like administrative assistants) and have high stress levels (like engineers and teachers) were more likely to have gained weight.

The truth is, there are lots of reasons your work could be affecting your waistline. "It really has to do with diet, physical activity,and behavior," says Katherine Tryon, a medical doctor with the Vitality Institute, a global research organization based New York City. Here are some potential factors, and how to steer clear of their consequences.

The most obvious cause of work-related weight gain is the lack of physical activity many employees get from (at least) 9 to 5, and in the CareerBuilder survey, workers pointed to "sitting at my desk most of the day" as the number-one reason for their expanding waistlines.

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Though it's true that research shows people who stand or walk throughout the day burn more calories, which can translate to fewer pounds gained over time, a 2013 British study failed to find a strong link between time spent sitting and obesity. The authors say that while sedentary behavior certainly doesn't help, there are clearly other factors fueling weight gain as well.

Is birch sap next big thing in skin care?

You're not still going on about the hydrating benefits of coconut water, are you? How very 2014. This year, there's a new wonder water poised to get people buzzing: birch sap, the Evening Standard reports.

Set to cause a major stir amongst Gwyneth and her fellow Goopsters, the latest better-than-water drink -- which is harvested from silver birch trees during the first few weeks of spring -- is predicted to be the hot topic of hydration in 2015.

For centuries, it's been a staple in the diets of those native to Russia, Scandinavia and Northern Europe, as well as parts of Northern China, but recently it has found a home on the shelves of health food shops across the globe. It's similar in taste to fresh spring water, but with a subtle sweetness -- and faintly gluey/tree-like aroma -- and thanks to the naturally occurring low-calorie sweetener xylitol comes in at just 18 calories per 100ml.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Of course, it's not the refreshing taste or lack of calories that will have us all queuing up at Whole Foods for a taste but its promised nutritional benefits.

"Birch is similar in its chemical composition to coconut water with a balance of electrolytes, potassium and other phytonutrients," says nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik.

"However, what makes birch stand out from coconut water are the saponins it contains. These can be useful in maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels as well as immune supportive properties," she adds. "Birch water has been associated with having anti-inflammatory effects, reducing LDL cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, having diuretic 'flushing' effects and as a beauty tonic."

Several birch water devotees go so far as to claim that the tonic can help those suffering from liver disease, diarrhea, constipation, kidney stones, headaches, flu, dandruff, eczema, cellulite and many more. Of course, as Kalinik points out, there is currently little evidence to support these claims.

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