Bob Goldman

Hello there! Didn't hear you come in. I was wrapped up in the latest issue of my new favorite magazine. It's called Obesity, and it's all about weight loss. Really, nothing is better than settling down with a dozen Tasty Creme donuts and a gallon of chocolate milk, and getting the skinny about the fat.

And boy, you should see the centerfolds!

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Sue Shellenbarger and a study from Obesity, one of the major influences on the amount of adipose you get is the feedback you get from your colleagues.

"Social contacts can be extremely powerful," says Tricia Leahey, an assistant professor of research on obesity and the study's lead author. "While peers' encouragement helps, dieting failures or negative attitudes among colleagues can discourage people from sticking to their own weight loss plans. It cuts both ways."

Of course, it would be nice if the attitudes of our co-workers only cut one way -- our way. That way we could get a much bigger slice of cake when office celebrations come around. But that's the whole problem, as the research shows. While a nice plate of sliced fruit would be so much better for us, office parties invariably include forbidden fruit, such as rich carrot cake and dark chocolate mud-slide muffins and irresistible red velvet cupcakes and creamy rich ice cream and delectable mountains of whipped cream, and suddenly, I'm beginning to see why this dieting business while you're in business is so difficult.

Even if your company has nothing to celebrate, there are still dangerous temptations that are hard to avoid and even harder to resist. As another study showed, "29 percent of people on diets say colleagues pressure them to eat more, make fun of their diet, or order them restaurant food they know isn't on their diet."

This is absolutely true. How often do you find yourself sitting in a restaurant, facing an extra-large pizza with extra cheese and extra lard, and you have no idea how this 12,000-calorie monstrosity got there. You meant to order a lettuce sandwich, on Melba toast. Obviously, one of your luncheon companions is trying to sabotage you. It's difficult to believe a co-worker could be so mean, especially when the only person at the table is you.


Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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