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Have you gotten fatter since starting work?

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Don’t be surprised if you find your work clothes getting tighter. According to new data from the Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB), the biggest shifts in overweight / obesity are seen during the transition into the workforce – from age 21-24 to, age 25-39.

The data, part of an HPB study of more than 60,000 people gathered over nearly 30 years, revealed that men generally gain more weight than women during their first decade of entering the workforce. Men typically experience a weight gain of 4kg, while women usually experience a 2kg weight gain.

Worryingly, it’s not just the working population who are getting bigger – today’s Singaporeans are on average 3kg heavier compared to a decade ago. The population median BMI has increased by 1 BMI point (equivalent to 3kg weight gain) from 22.23 in 2001 to 23.15 in 2016 – just outside the healthy range according to the HPB. This could potentially lead to a host of health problems linked to excess weight including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

If the rate of growth in obesity prevalence is not halted, obesity in Singapore is projected to hit 15% by 2024 – similar to the tipping point into accelerated growth in obesity for Americans.

“Change in rate of obesity growth reflects complex influences in the environment. These include level of physical activity, shifting pattern of eating out versus eating in, and changing dietary composition,” the study noted, highlighting the importance of cultivating healthier lifestyle habits.

ALSO READ: Is your company making your employees fat?

distribution of BMI among all SG residents aged 18-69 (2001 to 2016) Obesity percentage (SG vs US)

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