Chronic Job Stress Seen Leading To Weight Gain/Obesity
percent of adults are overweight or obese in the United States,
according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical
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 (URMC) researchers.
"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 preventive medicine.
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
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 by 150 percent, reported
researchers, who believe the fatty snacking associated with watching TV
is a major contributor to the weight gain.
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
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."
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
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.