|Chronic Job Stress Seen Leading To Weight Gain/Obesity
Sixty-eight percent of adults are overweight or obese in
the United States, according to a report in the Journal of the American
In a study of 2,782 employees at a large manufacturing
facility in upstate New York, 72 to 75 percent of all employees were
overweight or obese, found University of Rochester Medical Center
The study "associates high job pressure with
cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, depression, exhaustion,
anxiety and weight gain," according to lead author Diana Fernandez, MD,
MPH, PhD, an epidemiologist at URMC’s department of community and
After remaining sedentary all day in stressful
environments such as meetings or at computers in cubicles, the
employees participating in the study reported that they looked forward
to "vegging out" in front of the TV, and many admitted to "stress
eating" due to the burden of an unmanageable workload.
More than 65 percent of employees at the manufacturing
facility said they watched two or more hours of TV per day. Those who
watched four or more hours of TV a day increased their odds of obesity
by150 percent, reported researchers, who believe the fatty snacking
associated with watching TV is a major contributor to the weight gain.
Oddly enough, researchers found that a diet rich in
fruits and vegetables did little to offset the effect of chronic job
stress on weight gain among the employees.
Exercise was determined to be key in managing stress and
maintaining a healthy weight, however, some workers responded that they
were hesitant to eat well or exercise at lunch because they feared
"repercussions from leaving their desks too long."
"In a poor economy, companies should take care of the
people who survive layoffs and end up staying in stressful jobs,"
Fernandez said. "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."
"Stressful working conditions are known to impact health
behaviors directly and indirectly," stated the report. "Directly,
stress can affect the neuroendocrine system, resulting in abdominal
fat. Indirectly stress is linked to the consumption of too many fatty
or sugary foods and inactivity."
Workplace wellness programs should not only offer health
tips and ideas for employees, but should consider the entire
organization structure of the company to provide ways to create a less
stressful environment for everyone, the study findings concluded.
The research is published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Address: University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642; (585) 275-4539, www.urmc.rochester.edu.