Some good news for us desk fatties this week. Sitting hunched over our computers all day is not actually making us obese. In fact we burn just as much energy as our hunter-gathering ancestors did.

See how much stuff Dorobo has on his desk? Man, it gets on my nerves. Photo: Herald Sun
Really. We know this because scientists from Hunter College at the University of Arizona and Stanford University told us so.

They conducted an experiment comparing the daily expenditure of the Hadza, a tribe of traditional hunter-gatherers from northern Tanzania, Africa, with the average Western desk worker. In all cases they found that our energy expenditure was exactly the same.

That’s great news for anyone who spends a large proportion of their day bemoaning the fact that they can’t go and play outside in the sunshine. But it doesn’t rule out the other, potentially more perilous aspects of being completely desk-bound for at least eight hours a day.

Hygiene is my biggest bugbear. There is nothing worse than sharing an otherwise companionable workspace with the pesteringly un-hygienic. Examples include days old tea cups, and used plates or forks, un-emptied garbage bins and coffee stains that mark the desk for weeks on end. 

Sore neck and shoulders. Yes, we all know this discomfort can be prevented with the simplest of stretches, but hardly anyone remembers to do that. It’s quite concenring how often you can find yourself sitting for two or three hours at a time without noticing.

Lack of privacy during phonecalls. Ever been in the middle of a heated domestic discussion over the phone at work? There is nothing worse than realising mid-way through a particularly vehement point that everyone around you can hear everything you say. At least it keeps the office gossip amused.

But now it’s over to you, what’s your biggest gripe about being chained to a desk?

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    • Phwoar says:

      12:21pm | 27/07/12

      My biggest gripe about being chained to a desk? The vegetarian next to me farting all day.  He tries to mask it with a spray of Glen-20. I’ve grown to hate the smell of Glen-20.

    • CorBlimey says:

      02:05pm | 27/07/12

      I hate the smell of Glen-20 even without the underlying stench. To me, it smells like baby poo. I cannot understand why people use it. Get some Eucalyptus spray, people!

    • sunny says:

      04:39pm | 27/07/12

      yay, someone else’s intestinally fermented tofu lentil onion and spinach taco gas set free for all with a functional olfactory system to sample. Is he gunning for employee of the month?

    • Babylon in Canberra says:

      06:33pm | 27/07/12

      ...  he should pay extra carbon tax

    • subotic says:

      12:23pm | 27/07/12

      what’s your biggest gripe about being chained to a desk?

      The Gimp mask is too tight…

    • SAm says:

      12:24pm | 27/07/12

      Im guilty of the days old coffee cup thing. I maybe wash it once a month. Doesnt hurt, your only putting boiling water in anyway, so it’ll kill anything off.
      People listening in, stinky people and open offices in general are what annoys me. Much rather hide in a back room somewhere, get much more done

    • Emma says:

      12:54pm | 27/07/12

      I am sorry for the person that will inherit my keyboard as I eat my sandwich over it. I should maybe turn it over and give it a good shake before I leave. Hehe.

    • James1 says:

      01:13pm | 27/07/12

      I once received an email that purported to be a series of exercises one can do at their desk.  The last three movements were: pick up your keyboard; hold it above your head; and turn it upside down while looking up.

      Upon doing so, I copped a faceful of people like Emma’s old sandwich crumbs.  But I don’t blame them - I blame myself for being stupid enough to follow along.

    • Nikki says:

      02:06pm | 27/07/12

      Years ago I inherited a keyboard that was superficially clean, but when I tipped it upside down it was harbouring: crumbs, staples, mouse droppings and fingernail clippings.

      I deliberately sabotaged the space bar on the thing so I could get a new one that wasn’t biohazard.

    • Meph says:

      02:27pm | 27/07/12


      I once had to burn a desk phone when an end user complained that it smelled funny. It turned out she used to talk to people on it while eating her daily tuna sandwich.

      Please clean your keyboard, at the very least, your friendly local IT guy will thank you for it!

    • Emma says:

      02:48pm | 27/07/12


      I will just order a new keyboard for the new girl. We can do that here. There is no way I can get this clean.

    • Mark G says:

      12:26pm | 27/07/12

      In most cases its not the output (ie expenditure) that is the problem but rather the input. I am pretty certain that your average Tanzanian tribesmen does not eat as much (or as bad) as you average fat western officer worker. Its all about input and output. It doesn’t matter that the same amount of energy is used because the amount of energy put in is not the same. Most fat office workers need to be burning a hell of a lot more than a tribesman to lose weight if they want to maintain their diet.

    • Roz says:

      12:28pm | 27/07/12

      I love my desk.  Punching out work makes me feel good.  I roll or swivel wherever possible - anything to not get out of my chair smile

    • Hans Olo says:

      02:36pm | 27/07/12

      Roz, We’ve got a good mate of yours here. We call him Jabba.
      He lives in his swivelchair. He’s got this old broom handle that he uses as a gondolier. He’s pretty damn huge but the way he uses his pole? Damn that boy has a talent. There’s a hook on the end that he uses to grab bits of paper, highlighters and whatnot. He’s even killed a few keyboards by trying to troll a newsthread while perched on the other side of the office, waiting for a print to come through. He’s a legend. Hey, he just opened my can of coke with it just then. Thanks, Jabba!

    • thatmosis says:

      12:31pm | 27/07/12

      If its not sitting at a desk all day or doing no exercise then it must be the see food diet that is making a large majority of people fat and obese, self inflicted and everybody will end up paying.

    • Vicki PS says:

      11:24pm | 27/07/12

      Good!  That will go some way toward compensating for having to listen to smug patronising bastards.  I hope it costs you a bomb.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      12:40pm | 27/07/12

      Eating. More specifically, the sound people make when they’re eating while I’m trying to work. I’m surprised you guys haven’t heard about me on the news yet. “White 30 year old male was detained by Police today after ramming a crisket up the nose hole of a colleague. Witnesses claim he continued to yell snack related obscenities while repeatedly assaulting a box of crackers while Police dragged him from the scene.”

      People who eat loud are the worst, particularly in a place where eating at all shouldn’t be allowed. I need to sneak away and do the happy dance before I choke someone out.

    • Brad says:

      12:45pm | 27/07/12

      People who feel they are entitled to a job.

      You need to earn it. And go on earning it every single day.

    • Hambone says:

      01:27pm | 27/07/12

      People who think that somehow I should be greatful for the fact that I sell my time to my employer. My employers are not doing me a favor by employing me. They take the skills I bring and make a profit from them and in exchange I get my negotiated remuneration.
      Nothing to do with ‘earning’ my job. Let me guess, small to medium business owner with a low staff retention rate and low productivity Brad?

    • Drama Queen says:

      02:21pm | 27/07/12

      Brad - live for your job do you?

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      12:52pm | 27/07/12

      What a load of garbage! What did these “Academics” do? Get a great big fat Government Grant to conduct this ridiculous comparison & come up with an even more ridiculous conclusion. How did they measure the actual “energy” used by the desk-bound, Fat & Sugar laced junk food filled fatsos?
      The Hunter Gatherers would be simply worked out for they are on their feet doing exactly that, Hunting, gathering & carrying food back to their camp. You never see a Fat Hadza or any other tribesmen/women who spend their entire lives seeking out food suffering from obesity!
      Remember Cheese, that delicious, solid or melted but fat & cholestrol infused Dair Product which for generations we have been told we should, for the sake of our hearts, belly’s, hips, restrict our intake?
      Now some equally ridiculous , alleged, “Academics” in some equally stupid University in the UK has announced that we can eat as much of it as we like for the benefits far out-weigh the disadvantages!!
      The world, or at least those highly remunerated academics-cum-scientist members of it, has gone stark, bloody, raving mad!!

    • Phillb says:

      01:43pm | 27/07/12

      I love the fact you associate desk job with “Fat & Sugar laced junk food filled fatsos” because no one who works at a desk ever eats right and works out right?

    • nihonin says:

      12:56pm | 27/07/12

      Go away I’m working…...........working on my up sized Big Mac meal for lunch.

    • dancan says:

      01:07pm | 27/07/12

      But now it’s over to you, what’s your biggest gripe about being chained to a desk?

      “Lack of privacy during phonecalls. Ever been in the middle of a heated domestic discussion over the phone at work? There is nothing worse than realising mid-way through a particularly vehement point that everyone around you can hear everything you say. At least it keeps the office gossip amused.”

      People who don’t understand the concept of a workplace, you want to have a domestic take it outside.  Better still put your phone on silent and actually DO WORK

    • Nikki says:

      01:20pm | 27/07/12

      *walks past Dancan’s desk, tut-tuts as he belatedly minimises internet page to restore vast Excel spreadsheet. Reports to management.*

    • dancan says:

      02:16pm | 27/07/12

      Pfft amateur mistake Nikkei. Any manager worth their pay recognises the signs of the sudden minimize. I’m typing this out on my phone wink

    • miloinacup says:

      01:30pm | 27/07/12

      I hate desk work. It’s one of the reasons I’m going back to Uni - to move into a career where my day doesn’t consist of staring at a computer monitor from 9-5.

    • Mahhrat says:

      01:33pm | 27/07/12

      In my workplace, lack of accountability.  Just so bad.

    • Babylon in Canberra says:

      06:38pm | 27/07/12

      I had a contract at a Company that was running a Healthy Heart Campaign. Part of it’s initiatives was the advice to ‘Use the Stairs’ rather than the Lifts.

      However, the guest meal in the Canteen for Lunch was ‘Full English Breakfast’; Bacon, Egg, Fried Bread, Black Pudding, Sausage, French toast.

      Not a salad in sight.

      Funny as!

      Is that what you meant by accountability?

    • chopper knows says:

      01:43pm | 27/07/12

      At least there’s the internet, for all those that have lockdown intranet I feel sorry for you…

    • Audra Blue says:

      01:45pm | 27/07/12

      My biggest gripe is that I can’t be at home lying on the sofa watching Dexter or Fringe or CSI or Liam Neeson’s new movie The Grey (bought it yesterday).  Another gripe is I can’t be at home lying on the sofa taking a snooze because I’m so comfy with my pillow and blankie watching my movies.

      In my office there is a 75 yo woman who just won’t retire.  The biggest gripe I have with her is that she never showers.  She smells worse than a homeless person.  It’s disgusting and she earns more money than I do for doing pretty much nothing!  She’s been spoken to about her hygiene before but her excuse is that because of her age, her sense of smell isn’t that great and she doesn’t notice.  WTF?  So your bad sense of smell precludes you from automatically taking a shower every day?

      I also hate having to listen to the 20 yo guy in the next cubicle going on and on about superheroes and the Marvel and DC comic Universe.  Christ, I get that shit at home from my son, I don’t need to come in to work and hear it as well.  Plus, all the oversharing.  I know one woman’s family better than I know my own.  And then there’s the drama queens.  No wonder I’m exhausted every day.  Listening to them is draining.

      And one very nice lady who I actually like but CONSTANTLY mentions her property portfolio and how she has a holiday house and how she has to take time off to do some minor renovations. 

      I could go on but I’m getting tired and need a lie down on the sofa.

    • Nikki says:

      02:02pm | 27/07/12

      Under the boardroom table is a great place for a nap, I highly recommend it.

    • Meph says:

      03:23pm | 27/07/12

      @ Audra Blue

      I have flashbacks of my time living in a cubicle farm, so I feel your pain. I suggest though that the 75 year old may well dissolve if subjected to good clean water. That or she’s a hold out of the middle ages idea that a good stink helps keep you healthy.

    • sunny says:

      04:56pm | 27/07/12

      I watched The Grey about 2 weeks ago. Good luck, you’ll need it!

      “She’s been spoken to about her hygiene before..” that’s pretty funny, how did they broach that subject with her? Did they lead in with “Nice weather we’re having today Myra. Anyways, about that stench of yours… ”

    • kitteh says:

      05:20pm | 27/07/12

      I feel for you too, Audra, having worked in close quarters (not cubicles, but still bad enough) with a woman who smelled utterly dreadful. It was like (I imagine) a combination of rotten chicken and slowcooked feces. You simply never get used to it - it just smacks you in the face again every single day. I had to laugh at what your Stinky said - she doesn’t notice. So what? Everyone else does.

      The only thing that’s worse is people who bring their kids into work. I’ll probably get flamed for that, but for one thing, my workplace is extremely dangeous for young children and they are actually banned. Not that that stops people from doing it - they even try to dump the kid at my work area, and assume I’ll entertain them. Uh no, I’m WORKING. For another, they usually do it when the kid has been sent home from daycare for being sick. At my old workplace, one (senior) guy brought his kids in with chickenpox at the peak of their infectivity, and cheerily stated that it was OK, since he’d had it already. I hadn’t (this was back before the chickenpox vaccine was released) and spent the day in hiding.

      Urgh, now I’m tired too. time for Bex and a liedown I think.

    • Audra Blue says:

      05:47pm | 27/07/12

      @sunny, I don’t know how they broached it exactly.  Something along the lines of “it’s come to our attention that people have been complaining”.... etc etc The thing that roasted my raisins the most was that it wasn’t that big a deal to her.  She wasn’t embarrassed or insulted or anything.

      Apparently she picked up her game for a while but eventually got tired of keeping clean every day.  Word has it that she’s actually quite wealthy (no hubby or kids) and she owns a lot of land around Redland Bay (southside) area which she’s leaving to the conservation mobs when she dies.

      She doesn’t wear a bra, so at her age, her tits are around her waist and it’s really obvious.  She also dresses like she’s just been pulled out of a St Vinnie’s dumpster.  One day she rocked up at 10 am because she forgot it was a work day and slept in.  The advantages of working in govt I guess.  But that particular day she shows up in a pair of track pants, granny sandals with socks, a hot pink 70s polyester blouse and a woollen vest that had moth holes in it.

      Oh, and her front teeth are rotted through so it’s hard to understand what she’s saying.  When I see her coming, I head the other way.

    • sunny says:

      06:30pm | 27/07/12

      She probably had a lot of wild times when she was younger and now everything else compared to that is like “meh, whatevs” ..or the equivalent of that in granny speak

    • che says:

      01:52pm | 27/07/12

      Since the bitch-face left two weeks ago and I got her job, everything is pretty great around here.

      It does annoy me a little when the males in the office dump their dirty dishes in the sink, and expect them to be washed and put away. I think they forget that we are not their wives/mothers.

    • Sour Dave says:

      01:55pm | 27/07/12

      I’ve got a pretty dismal view out my window. That’s my only gripe.
      But what makes my job awesome is my chair. I’ve got this wicked stain on my chair between my legs. It’s where I drip coffee, tea, tuna oil, kebab juices, etc. The etc, could be any number of things, but it’s mainly sweat after going for a walk round the cbd when I’m feeling kinda fit.
      Everyone is disgusted by my chair, but I’m proud of it.
      I don’t ever want a replacement.

    • Bitter Richard says:

      02:08pm | 27/07/12

      Hear hear my friend.

      You sound like my type of person. Let’s got to macca’s to celebrate. The $2 double cheeseburgers are on me.

    • Sandler says:

      02:10pm | 27/07/12

      Office maintenance installed new paper towel dispensers to cope with new paper towels we’re getting. That doesn’t stop the cleaners from trying to cram in 25,000 reams every night.
      So annoying trying to pull out paper towels and all you get is confetti.
      Cleaners, I am not at a bloody wedding!

    • Diogenes says:

      02:10pm | 27/07/12

      Oh dear, I have 30 desks in my office.

      Unfortunately there is usually a smelly year 9, 10, 11, or 12 who needs help sitting in one.

      Out of curiosity I put on a pedometer one day (admit it included a yard duty) and did 15,500 steps or thereabouts

    • Frank says:

      02:17pm | 27/07/12

      We’ve got this nutter in here who’s a massive U2 fan. Any situation you’re in, and he’ll quote some freakin U2 lyrics which will suit perfectly. He’s got a gift… a pretty damn useless gift.

      Who calls themselves after a freakin bone anyway?

    • iansand says:

      03:01pm | 27/07/12

      Doesn’t it bug you?  Star Wars.  Their particular favourite computer game.  The Simpsons.  Then, because you do not get their obscure references, they treat you as though you are mentally deficient.  What they badly need is a life.

    • Chris L says:

      04:05pm | 27/07/12

      That’s right Iansand. Acceptable conversation topics are cars or sport, anyone talking about anything else is to be hated and ridiculed.

    • andre says:

      02:50pm | 27/07/12

      ...and what is the relevance to the article of the picture showing those 2 critters . They are not fat nor are they disease. Is it some kinda evolutionary propaganda pic?

    • Chris L says:

      03:56pm | 27/07/12

      “Evolutionary propaganda pic”?! Huh?

    • nihonin says:

      06:04am | 28/07/12

      They are what our future Greens overlords will look like.

    • Theon says:

      03:00pm | 27/07/12

      At first glimpse I thought the one on the left was Osha from Game of Thrones.

    • Babylon in Canberra says:

      06:46pm | 27/07/12

      I just do not believe this research.

      Was it sponsored by the ‘Longer Hours at you Computer Please’ association?

      When I do ‘hunter gathering’ in my garden I’m always hungry after, plus I have on occasion noticed weigh loss the following day.

      So BiC findings do not concur. :D

    • AJ says:

      06:27am | 29/07/12

      Now it is an interesting comparison but is seems to me that if you say that hunter gatherers in Tanzania are our past your are actually harking back to the long redundant “standard of civilizations”. The same standard of civilizations that classified pre-European Australia as Terra Nullius. These people are by no means our hunter gather ancestors and actually live in the present.  Saying otherwise seems to me to be outright racist.

    • Heather says:

      09:52am | 29/07/12

      Loving all the gripey office talk. An office trade day could sort it. I’ll trade you my [ habit that annoys you, but I think is totally reasonable] if you just shut the hell up about [the thing that you talk about that I can’t stand another minute of]....or just have a lie down under the boardroom table as per Nikki’s suggestion. Love it.


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