Workplace stress linked to obesity



The typical American employee is overstressed, sedentary and overweight. This is according to a study by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center. And even a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables cannot undo the damaged.

The researchers looked at 2,782 employees of a large manufacturing company in upstate New York, whose working conditions are supposedly representative of any job situation where lay offs are of major concern. The employees were typically middle-aged, white, married, highly educated (college degree or more), relatively well-paid (earning more than $60,000 a year), with an average of almost 22 years at the company.

The study results indicate the following:

  • Most of the employees are chronically stressed.
  • 72 to 75% of the employees were overweight or obese. The body mass index (BMI) of the employees surveyed was similar to that observed in the general American population, i.e. obesity rates of 32% in men and 35% in women.
  • Workers seldom take time to take a proper lunch or go for a walk for fear of their jobs.
  • When pink slips are circulating, fat- and calorie-rich snacks from the vending machines become very popular.
  • At the end of a working day, employees would eventually “vege out” in front of the TV. 55% of employees watched at least 2 hours of TV each day.
  • Employees engaged in jobs of high stress levels have higher BMs compared to those engaged in low-stress, more passive jobs.

 

A healthy diet doesn’t seem to help much. The lack of physical exercise at the workplace as well as at home seems to be highly responsible for the weigh problems.

This is not the first study to link stress at the workplace to weight problems and the links can be direct as well as indirect.

Directly: stress can affect the neuroendocrine system, resulting in abdominal fat, for example, or it may cause a decrease in sex hormones, which often leads to weight gain.

Indirectly: stress is linked to the consumptions of too many fatty or sugary foods and inactivity.

The study results emphasize the importance of improving corporate polices to protect the health of employees.

According to lead researcher Dr. Diana Fernandez:

“In a poor economy, companies should take care of the people who survive layoffs and end up staying in stressful jobs. It is important to focus on strengthening wellness programs to provide good nutrition, ways to deal with job demands, and more opportunities for physical activity that are built into the regular workday without penalty.”

Aside from weight gain, pressure and stress in the workplace has been linked to cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, depression, exhaustion, anxiety and weight gain.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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