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Sunday, Apr. 20, 2014

Do you need to take food to work?

Posted Friday, September 2, 2011, at 11:55 AM

Are your co-workers bad for your health? Tuesday morning, following the holiday weekend, a fellow co-worker or two may show up with high calorie leftovers from their weekend celebrations. Fully aware that they certainly don't need the extra calories, these co-workers bring leftovers to work trying to spread the pounds thin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one-third of the U.S. adult population is obese (defined as a Body Mass Index 30 or higher). In 2007-08, approximately 34% of adults over age 20 were overweight (Body Mass Index between 25.0-29.9). Adding the two, approximately two-thirds of the adult population is either obese or overweight.

Excess body weight increases the risks for back problems, joint problems, diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and some cancers. Weight-related ailments can affect job performance, causing more sick days, decreased productivity, additional doctor visits, and untimely deaths.

In the past, Ed occasionally asked me to bake cookies for him to take to work. Trying to be a good wife, I sometimes did. Plus, I would enjoy a few cookies myself. (Did you read my blog titled "Confessions of a dietitian"?) Anyway, then I found out Ed wanted me to bake cookies because his co-workers were bringing in goodies. He wanted to pull his own weight -- and he certainly was. I was ashamed to have contributed to the madness.

Sure, my husband exercises and has no physically apparent weight issues. But do his co-workers realize his family history includes diet-related health problems? Do I know the past medical histories of his co-workers and their families? No. But, given that over two-thirds of the adult population is either overweight or obese, most don't have room for the empty calories either.

You argue that nobody is forced to eat it. True. But if a savory treat is staring you in the face, do you have the willpower to ignore it? Does your significant other, parent, or child have the willpower?

Unless you're indeed trying to sicken your co-workers, consider making smaller batches, freezing leftovers, or trashing what you did not (or should not) finish. Charge your co-workers to do the same, and save the baking for office potlucks and other special occasions.

And remember, throwing away leftover desserts now is much cheaper than splurging for medications later.

From Worthington, Tracey is a Registered Dietitian. She currently lives in Arlington, Va., with her husband, Ed and three children, Lilly, Charlie, and Kate. For additional nutrition tips, recipes, menu ideas, articles, and more, follow her on Facebook at Practical Nutrition Tips. The information contained in this blog is not meant to substitute for your physician's advice.

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