It is estimated that 63% of office workers regularly eat lunch or snack at their desk. Chowing down the food while answering emails, making phone calls or attending meetings might save you some time, but it comes with detrimental side effects on your health. This sad but increasing trend could make you feel ill, lethargic and even overweight.

Here’s why?

House of Germs:

A team of microbiologists from University of Arizona who studied the bacterial levels inside offices located in New York, San Francisco, Tucson and Tampa found that the average desktop is home to 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more than the average toilet seat.

Desks, phones and computer are the topmost contaminants of germs. This is not surprising considering the fact that many people don’t wipe their desks unless it becomes too sticky and filthy. Office cleaning teams wipe down common areas like the kitchen and public bathrooms regularly. But most of the time, they’re not allowed to enter anyone’s cubicle or private office except to change the trash. It was found that bacteria levels increase by as much as 31% everyday on unclean work spaces. This bacteria lurking on your desk could be host to a number of potential diseases like strep throat, pneumonia or flu that will make you miss work while increasing your healthcare expenses.

Mindless Munching:

Eating lunch or just casual munching in front of a screen leads to increased calorie consumption, and thus weight gain. Mindless eating or in other words by eating while preoccupied with work, your body and brain don’t properly process the amount of food you consume. As a result, the hormone leptin is often late to signaling the brain that it’s time to stop eating, meaning you take in more calories than you need to feel satisfied. According to a study conducted by Cornell University, office workers who munch (especially on candy) at their desk weighed 15.4 lbs more than those who did not.

Missing on Joy of Eating:

Enjoying your meal is as important as eating it. When you’re not focusing on the enjoyment or the fulfillment of your food, an hour later, you’ve almost forgotten you ate lunch and you’re already grabbing something else, not realizing you just had a full meal.

Long hours of sitting:

Eating at your desk also means you don’t get up and move around. Walking to the office cafeteria or to the sandwich shop located few blocks from work will help you stretch and get some much needed “exercise” break. Even a 10-minute brisk walk can increase your heart rate and keeps you feeling energized for up to two hours. If you work in a windowless cubicle and stay indoors all day long then you could be missing on exposure of natural light and Vitamin D from the sun. Exposure to the sunlight is associated with lower BMI and helps to regulate circadian rhythms, which in turn regulates energy balance and expenditure. Yet another argument for taking that lunch break!

Missing on socializing:

Eating at your desk means that you will miss on socializing and networking- something that is good for your happiness and your health. Research has found that some of the benefits of socializing are similar to that of exercise — you usually feel better after a good bout, have lower stress and blood pressure levels, and you may be less likely to suffer from depression. One study from MIT found that office workers who socialize tend to be around 10 percent more productive than those who don’t. So eat away from your desk to improve your health and grow your circle.

In a nut shell, even though you might believe that you are being dedicated or efficient by eating at their desk, both snacking and lunching have a price in pounds and in enjoyment. So instead of eating on your desk, get up and get going!!

Originally published at