Gaining weight? Heavy work pressure may be the reason

Washington: It turns out gaining weight because of heavy work pressure is not just an abstract concept. A recent study suggests that heavy pressures at work seem to predispose women to weight gain irrespective of whether they have received an academic education or not.

As part of a study, researchers were able to see that high job demands played a part in women’s weight gain, while for men there was no association between high demands and weight gain.

The women and the men in the study were investigated on three occasions over a 20-year period with respect to such variables as body weight and demands and control at work. They were followed either from age 30 to 50 or from 40 to 60.

To estimate the level of job demands, the respondents were asked about their work pace, psychological pressures, whether there was enough time for their duties and how often the demands made were contradictory.

The results show that the respondents with a low degree of control in their work more frequently gained considerable weight, defined as a weight gain of 10 per cent or more, in the course of the study. This applied to women and men alike.

Findings of the study we published in the Journal of International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health.

“When it came to the level of demands at work, only the women were affected. We haven’t investigated the underlying causes, but it may conceivably be about a combination of job demands and the greater responsibility for the home that women often assume. This may make it difficult to find time to exercise and live a healthy life,” said Sofia Klingberg, lead author of the study.

Having had or not had an academic education does not explain the association in the study. Neither does the quality of diet nor other lifestyle factors. However, the information about dietary intake comes from the respondents themselves, with a certain risk of incorrect reporting.

The researchers think identification of groups who are susceptible to stress and efforts to reduce work-related stress would likely achieve a decrease not only in weight gain but also in the incidence of ill health including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.