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RISMEDIA, May 24, 2010—(MCT)—This may not feel like a time of plenty. But many American workers’ waist lines are expanding through the weak economy, according to a new survey by Chicago-based CareerBuilder.

The poll revealed that 44% of workers have gained weight in their current jobs, with 32% saying stress was a contributing factor. In 2009, 43% of workers reported putting on pounds. The weight gain was more than 10 pounds for 28% of employees and more than 20 pounds for 12% of workers.

The survey, conducted online between Feb. 10 and March 2, polled about 4,800 Americans who are at least 18 years old and employed full-time at a non-government job.

“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,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, said in a news release.

Still, the other reasons for office weight gain cited by the survey participants were perennial culprits: workplace celebrations such as birthday parties and eating out regularly, for example. Half of the workers surveyed said they eat lunch out at least five days a week, and one-quarter of employees said they snack at least twice a day. Only 9% of the respondents said they use their lunch hour to exercise. And 49% of respondents said they gained weight simply by sitting at their desks for most of the day.

Women were more susceptible to weight gain in the office, with 50% of female workers saying they had gained weight, versus 39% of men.

CareerBuilder recommends that employees bring a healthy lunch from home, set an eating schedule for the day to avoid snacking and find a workout buddy in the office. The site also suggests walking over to co-workers instead of calling or e-mailing them.

(c) 2010, Chicago Tribune.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.