What impact does work have on waistlines and, in particular, can job stress cause weight gain in women? We find out…

Ladies, the bad news is that, regardless of title and education level, when the pressure is on at work women tend to gain more weight than men.

This is according to a Swedish study of more than 3 800 people.

“We 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,” says Sofia Klingberg, a researcher in community medicine and public health at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and the study’s lead author.

Tracking weight and work stress over 20 years

The women and men in the study were investigated on three occasions over a 20-year period from age 30 to 50 or from 40 to 60.

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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.

Is job stress driving you to eat junk food?

Feeling in control matters

The study found that respondents with a low degree of control in their work gained considerable weight (defined as a weight gain of 10 percent or more). This applied to women and men alike.

The questions about control at work covered such matters as…

  • How often they learned something new
  • Whether the job called for imagination or advanced skills
  • Whether the respondent was personally able to choose what to do and how to do it

Long-term job stress affects women more than men

Researchers found that long-term exposure to high job demands played a part for women only.

Over the 20 years, just over half of the women who had been subjected to high job stress gained considerable weight. Their weight gain was 20 percent higher than in women who had less stressful job demands.

“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,” Klingberg says.

Source: University of Gothenburg via www.sciencedaily.com

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.