Lifestyle Choices That Are the Biggest Causes of Obesity

We asked over 20,000 people five simple lifestyle questions and then performed biometric screenings on all of them to measure BMI/Waist, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol & Blood Sugar levels.  Our 3 findings surprised even us.

The five questions we asked were:

  • Where do you prefer to exercise when you make the time?
      • a. Local member-based fitness center
      • b. At home or on your own (e.g. running, biking, home gym)
      • c. At your worksite fitness center
      • d. While at work, but not at the fitness center (e.g. walking during lunch)
      • e. Other
  • What is your preferred method to reduce calorie intake?
      • a. Limit sweets like dessert & candy
      • b. Limit carbohydrates in general (e.g. bread, pasta)
      • c. Control portions while being able to eat any type of food
      • d. Take over the counter supplements
      • e. Other
  • What is your greatest source of stress?
      • a. Money
      • b. Spouse/Significant other
      • c. Work related
      • d. Children
      • e. Parents / In-Laws
      • f. Other
  • How many hours per week do you work?
      • a. 20-30
      • b. 31-40
      • c. 41-50
      • d. 51-60
      • e. Over 60
  • How ready are you to change what you do to become healthier?
      • a. Very Likely
      • b. Likely
      • c. Somewhat Likely
      • d. Not Likely

FINDING #1 – Only 31% of people prefer to exercise at a fitness center, and its typically the younger crowd. 

Just 26% of the people surveyed preferred to work out at a member based fitness center, and only 5% preferred exercise at their worksite fitness center.  The overwhelming majority of people (63%) chose to work out at home or on their own.

Those that did work out at member based fitness centers were noticeably healthier, and scored in the top position with respect to BMI, TC/HDL ratio, Blood Pressure, and Blood Glucose levels on their biometric screenings.   However, when we adjusted for age, this difference largely went away as those that preferred to exercise at fitness centers were significantly younger than the groups that preferred other work out venues.

FINDING #2 – People who take supplements as the preferred method to control calories are much heavier than those who pursued other methods.

The median BMI for those who preferred to take over the counter supplements was 33.2; the next highest median BMI was for those who try to limit carbs at 28.7.  Interestingly, the healthiest BMI levels were in the “Other” category – likely those most disciplined of individuals when it comes to diet; i.e. vegetarians & vegans.  None of these findings changed when adjusted for age.

FINDING #3 – The more hours you work per week, the heavier you probably are.

Finally, the math clearly indicated that BMI levels slowly but steadily increase as hours worked per week increase.  In other words, the more hours your employees work, the more overweight they are likely to be for their age group.


  • Employees can be segmented based on attitudes and preferences (those that would use a gym membership and those that would not), just as B2C companies segment consumers. After all, we are effectively trying to sell wellness programming (lifestyle management, etc.) for FREE, yet people are still not buying (not engaging) to the level we want.  Perhaps the classical marketing efforts of segmenting, targeting and positioning work well here.  In our opinion, they will certainly work better than one-size fits all wellness. Based on the data collected, it may also be cheaper because you won’t be wasting your efforts providing programs to the segments of the population you know will never use them.
  • Companies may want to study the incremental business impact of hours worked over 40 per week and compare that to the increased healthcare costs that result from obesity, to determine if they are better off utilizing over-time or hiring another person. In the end, it appears the companies are not just paying the extra “time and a half” money for over-time work; they are also indirectly paying higher healthcare costs on those individuals as they don’t have time and/or the energy to focus on being healthy.
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