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Water Cooler: Fat Talk

The Fast Company roundup of what you'll be talking about this month when you talk about work.

Step away from the doughnut. . . .

Obesity costs American businesses $12.7 billion each year. Maybe peer pressure—that classic motivator—is the answer. The folks behind the brand new think so. It's a weight-loss-management site fueled by the withering scorn of others. Join a group of up to four people and share with them everything about your diet and exercise regime. The prospect of snarky comments after you report eating the leftover birthday cake in the break room forces you to shape up. Works for us!

It beats sitting in a conference room counting Weight Watchers points, and PeerTrainer is ramping up efforts to be part of corporate wellness programs. Or you could do what we did in our office and replace the regular jelly beans with those Harry Potter ones that taste like earwax and vomit. . . .

What you can learn "according to a recent study". . . .

26% of your coworkers say they're spending more than two hours a day instant-messaging their significant others, according to a Web survey conducted by Akonix Systems. Believe it (especially in the under-30 set), but given that Akonix sells big companies instant-messaging systems that can block unauthorized IM use, consider the source. . . . Two Scottish psychologists report their findings that tall women are more ambitious and less likely to start a family than shorter women because they have more testosterone. "We're not saying that all tall women are ambitious and all short women just want to have babies," says Miriam Law Smith, who is 5'7" and one of the researchers. It just sounds like it. EBay CEO Meg Whitman, 5'9", and Mick Jagger's girlfriend, who's 6'4", are cited as further proof. . . .

Companies are worried about our work-life balance. . . .

Unfortunately, they aren't the companies we work for. Rather, it's Ikea and the winemaker Beringer. Each has launched a Web site dedicated to getting us to stop working—and, um, start drinking, preferably in a new Ikea kitchen. The Ikea effort ( is specious at best—"Are you working too hard for your dream kitchen?"—but the test to determine if you're a workaholic is a cheeky wake-up call. Beringer's includes productivity tips, a "time to go home alarm," and a pledge to reclaim wasted time. Our advice: Turn off IM. It really is a time sink.

A version of this article appeared in the December 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.