Workplace Culture

The Last Word: Your Mama’s Weight Is No Joke

By Rick Bell

May. 22, 2015

You’ve probably heard “Your mama’s so fat” jokes. You know … “Your mama’s so fat she sat on Wal-Mart and lowered the prices.” Funny stuff, huh?

Yeah, well get ready to laugh out loud with this one: “Your mama’s so fat she’s among the 57 percent of workers in the U.S. who feel like they are overweight.”

Good one, huh?

OK, here’s another LOL for you: “Your mama’s so fat she’s among the 66 percent of overweight workers who say their stress level at work is high and the 70 percent of workers who believe it is extremely high.”

High comedy there (Get it? High stress? High comedy? Nyuk nyuk). OK, just a couple more. And I guarantee, they’ll keep you in stitches.

“Your mama’s so fat that she’s among the 37 percent of workers who attributes her weight gain to eating because of stress.” Oh, but they just keep on coming. “Your mama’s so fat that she’s too tired from work to exercise.”

Stop. I’m killing myself. “Your mama’s so fat that she’s one of the 56 percent who believes that a sedentary work environment contributes to her weight gain.”

OK, one more. Promise. And it’s a killer — literally.

“Your mama’s so fat, stressed and sedentary at work for six or more hours daily that she’s at a 37 percent greater risk of dying from cancer compared with those who sat for three hours or less.”

Of course, these comedic gems don’t only apply to your mother; feel free to plug in sister, aunt, grandma and even grandpa or daddy. Just like mom, they all can feel fat and stressed at work, too.

You know what they say; good comedy makes people uncomfortable. If that’s indeed the case, then these jokes are priceless.

I know I shift in my chair when I read these stats. But rather than squirm in our seats, this heavy data from a recent CareerBuilder study and via the American Cancer Society should be the fire alarm that launches you out of your chair, into the hallway, down the stairs — not the elevator — and outside. If you mill around outdoors, fine. If you decide to walk around the block, great. And if you hike a couple of miles, even better.

Because this ain’t no fire drill, people. We are fat. We are sedentary. And we are stressed. Obesity remains a plague across the U.S. workforce and is growing, if the CareerBuilder study is any indication; health care spending associated with diabetes continues to spiral out of control; and heart disease remains the leading cause of death among men and women.

There are a lot of excuses — and many legitimate ones — for poor health and crummy eating habits that lead to obesity. Stress triggers poor eating, and it’s painfully obvious that a lot of us feel stressed and pressed at work. We have quick and easy access at work to shops at the food court peddling fatty, sugar-laden junk that’s nonetheless cheap and admittedly pretty tasty.

Now, I’m not your mother; I only deliver the mama jokes. I’m not going to tell you what to do, or when, or how.

So take this as a little friendly advice from someone who cares about your health. A lot of companies have well-intentioned but arguably misguided wellness programs.

I say misguided because employers are seemingly more concerned with R-O-I than Y-O-U. As one speaker at this year’s Midwest Business Group on Health’s appropriately named “Wild Wild West of Health Benefits” annual conference said, “There are about a thousand ways to measure ROI,” which doesn’t do squat for assessing your individual well-being.

I’m a firm believer, however, that as erroneous as they might be, at their core, these programs have employees’ best interests at heart. There is likely some aspect of a workplace wellness plan that is beneficial to your health. Check it out. Just like peace, all I am saying is give it a chance.

Now if you are a fit as a fiddle, you are in a perfect position to help a mama or daddy melt that fat. And it’s really simple: Ask them to go for a walk. They don’t have to run a marathon or drop and give you 50. Take 10 and take them for a walk.

Because as some will joke, sitting is the new smoking, although that’s not nearly as witty as Apple CEO Tim Cook, who recently cracked wise: sitting is the new cancer.

He didn’t quite land that one so try this: “Your mama’s so sedentary that shehad a 112 percent increase in the risk of diabetes, a 147 percent increase in cardiovascular events, and a 90 percent increase in death due to those events.”

Funny … or die; your choice.

Rick Bell is Workforce’s managing editor. To comment, email

Rick Bell is Workforce’s editorial director. For comments or questions email

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