In a fifth-season episode of "The Office," the staff, including executive Michael (Steve Carell), decides to play a game of food catch. They start by throwing cheese puffs into each other's mouths. By the end, they're stuffing their newly orange-colored faces with the junky snack food. Michael gets 32 into his mouth at once!
We've all encountered such temptations at work, whether it's Free Pizza Fridays, birthday cake for the boss, candy and soda in vending machines, or gloppy, fried stuff in the cafeteria.
Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a report that looks at the work-food habits of 5,000 office workers. Turns out they consume about 1,292 excess calories a week above what they regularly eat for meals while at work. And 70 percent of those calories are coming from free food.
These foods can cause substantial weight gain and expose folks to unhealthy additives found in processed and packaged foods (emulsifiers in cheeses, hormone disruptors in plastic-wrapped foods and unhealthy fats).
Even though office camaraderie is associated with more happiness on the job and more productivity, start an office-wide campaign to make food choices healthier and snacks less frequent.
Also, suggest forming a lunch-time walking club. Your stress response at work to daily deadlines, demanding bosses and difficult colleagues just amps up the temptation to make poor food choices. Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol increase your appetite! Shared physical activity (not including throwing cheese balls) helps dispel stress, builds team spirit and improves your overall health.
Taking pressure off kids -- elevated blood pressure, that is!
When your dad's a pro athlete, there's a lot of pressure on you as a kid to measure up. These kids sure did:
• Brett Hull was an eight-time All-Star in the NHL; dad Bobby is a 12-time NHL All-Star; both are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
• Harvey Catchings was a defensive force in the NBA from 1974 to 1985. His daughter, Tamika, played 15 years in the WNBA for the Indiana Fever and was Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.
• The Griffey boys (Ken Jr. and Ken Sr.), well, they hit back-to-back homers when they played for the Mariners, the only father-son pair in history to do so.
Sometimes pressure can lead to excellence, but there's one kind of pressure on kids that's guaranteed to cause problems: high blood pressure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 percent of kids 12 to 19 have high blood pressure (that's 1.3 million youngsters) and 10 percent have elevated blood pressure. Obesity is a huge cause of early-onset HBP, and these kids are candidates for premature heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Heard enough to get you to make sure your kids are heart healthy? Here's what to do:
• Help them get at least 60 minutes of activity daily.
• Make sure they: avoid processed foods, deli meats and unhealthy fats; drink no soda; eat lots of fruits and veggies; and drink water!
To discover your child's healthy blood pressure level, talk to your doc and go online for the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's pocket guide at http://tinyurl.com/y2ec2yyy.
Poor dental care ups your risk for a roster of other diseases
In the film "Castaway," Tom Hanks' character, stranded on an island, performs a successful dental extraction on himself using the blade of an ice skate. He eases his pain and avoids a spread of the infection.
While you may not opt for do-it-yourself dental care, chances are you don't get regular check-ups and cleanings. A 2013 survey found 23 to 43 percent of American adults don't make needed appointments with their dentist or dental hygienist. We think that's probably an underestimate. That neglect can cause trouble, and not just for gums and teeth. Some facts:
• An infected tooth can trigger chronic sinusitis, according to the American Association of Endodontists. The condition, maxillary sinusitis of endodontic origin, happens when the root of a molar gets infected. Bacteria can spread up to the sinus and cause chronic infection, triggering nasal stuffiness, pressure and post-nasal drip. Many doctors misdiagnose the condition. The real solution is a (painless, these days) root canal.
• Chronic gum disease (periodontitis) is linked to Alzheimer's disease. In a multinational study in Science Advances, researchers looked at the brains of Alzheimer's patients and found that gum disease produces bacteria and toxins that migrate to their brains and are instrumental in creating amyloid tangles and problems with tau proteins that characterize Alzheimer's disease.
• Gum disease is associated with diabetes (it raises blood glucose levels), and poorly controlled diabetes makes gum disease worse.
Your smart move: Brush and floss twice daily. See your dental hygienist twice a year for a cleaning and get a complete oral exam then too!
Moving up (and down) at work
Al Roker ("The Today Show"), Jimmy Kimmel ("Jimmy Kimmel Live!") and John Grisham (author of "The Reckoning" and at least 25 other books) swear by their treadmill desks. They're not alone (just ask Dr. Mike, who has two). Industry insiders estimate 400,000 to 600,000 treadmill desks were bought or constructed in the U.S. between 2007 and 2015. That's not counting the increasingly popular pedaling workstations, at which some say it's easier to work.
A review of studies on cycling and treadmill workstations in comparison to standing desks, published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found that active workstations boost heart rate, alertness and energy expenditure and lower blood pressure during the working day. Treadmill stations like Dr. Mike's were associated with lower stress scores; cycling stations improved the speed of simple processing task. The drawbacks? It can be hard to work on a computer while walking on a treadmill or cycling energetically. Tip: During a conference call, remember you're on a treadmill!
Wondering about energy expenditure? A slow treadmill walk (if you weigh 155) uses 211 calories/hour. If you were burning an extra 500-plus calories, five days a week (don't eat more!), well, you could lose a lot of weight!
Quick tip: If you have a standing desk, instead of an active workspace, make sure you adjust its height and sit intermittently. A study from Mount Sinai Medical School in NYC found that participants who used an adjustable workstation (not a static one) had less upper back, shoulder, and neck discomfort, and 65 percent reported increased productivity.
It doesn't pay to be a bully
In the 1984 film "The Karate Kid," Daniel (Ralph Macchio) gets bullied and beat up repeatedly by a group of boys at school. Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), the elderly gardener and secret karate master, steps in and helps Daniel master the martial art. At the end of the movie, Daniel and one of the bullies, Johnny (William Zabka) battle it out in a karate tournament. Guess who wins?
Bullying and other forms of childhood violence have risen to staggering rates, according to a new study by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston that's funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers looked at 4,300 children in grades five, seven and 10 from Houston, Los Angeles and Birmingham, Alabama. They found that 20 percent of fifth-graders were victims of violent injuries, and the rate increased to 30 percent by high school. Most injuries were the result of guns or knives. The rest consisted of other assault-related injuries severe enough to require medical attention.
The researchers also found that it wasn't bullying victims, like Daniel, who were the most likely to get hurt. It was the bullies who were 41 percent more likely to be violently injured than other children. Perhaps that's because as a group, they're more prone to violence.
For great info on how to spot and stop bullying, visit www.stopbullying.gov. Help your kids get involved, too, by talking about how to report and stand up to that aggression.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.