A graduate fresher in his/her early twenties receives an offer letter from a software company and is on top of the world and is the toast of their family and friends. The route to economic freedom and security is paved with long hours, learning the ways of the workplace and climbing the corporate ladder. This growth, of course, takes a few years to realize and by the time our erstwhile fresher is in their late twenties, they realize that their prosperity has shown up in their home, their car(s), and on their belly.
Family, society, and loud advertisements repeatedly guilt them into thinking that it is primarily due to the sedentary lifestyle that they lead and that they should immediately join a gym, or salsa, or zumba or the latest fad.
But is a sedentary lifestyle only to blame?
The nature of work of an employee in a software industry is typically of thinking. The job requires a person to sit down and think what to do and how to solve a given problem. To an outsider, it may seem that the employee just sits and rests for eight to ten hours in a day, and yet is stressed.
According to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, scientists conducted an experiment that shows that people burn only three calories more when completing intellectual tasks, such as reading and summarizing text, in comparison to people resting and completing other low intellectual activities, such as memorizing objects.
Yet, they consumed at-least 203 calories more after performing tasks that involve intellectual stimulation than just resting. The body converts carbohydrates to glucose when intense brain activity is involved. This results in a drop in blood glucose and insulin levels that the brain interprets as hunger. The overall number of calories does not change but the glucose levels do. People are therefore hungrier after intellectual activity than otherwise.
This adds up to an intake of excess calories than required in absence of physical activity. When this practice continues over the years, the result is evident in our societies, including beer bellies. This factor is, of course, relevant to any profession or activity which requires deep thinking as a part of its job description. This is one of the reasons for the obesity epidemic that has afflicted working professionals in urban societies. This is also reflected in school-going children who do lot of mental work and feel hungry and require to have some snacks and hence increasing the risk of obesity. This, and a bunch of modern conveniences such as motor vehicles, constant availability of ready made food, and general lethargy combined.
So there’s your explanation, don’t just blame your job but blame the intellectual stimulation that your job provides that’s causing your waistline to expand.
No wonder the snacks table gets wiped out at our office parties.