In a new study, researchers found feeling overworked contributes to a variety of unhealthy behaviors that can cause weight gain.
The finding points to the role work stress can influence how people adopt necessary strategies to maintain a healthy weight.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Georgia.
More and more companies use workplace-based wellness and weight management programs, but over two-thirds of working adults are overweight or obese.
Most worksite programs focus on things like nutrition education, access to healthy foods or access to a gym. They seldom include stress management related to job demands.
In the study, the team examined 1,000 men and women working in full-time jobs to answer questions about their workloads and exhaustion or burnout.
They were also asked to report their eating and exercise habits.
The results showed that employees with heavier workloads were more likely to emotionally eat, eat without stopping, and choose fattier foods.
In addition, people who were burned out tended to do the same and exercise less.
The researchers explain that people have many things to do every day, but they only have limited energy.
When their energy gets used up in work, they may not have the energy to make healthy decisions about what to eat. This can lead to weight gain.
Future work needs to examine how job demands affect issues like obesity.
The team hopes their finding can help people have better self-care.
The lead author of the study is Heather Padilla, faculty member and researcher in the Workplace Health Group at UGA’s College of Public Health.
The study is published in the Journal of Health Psychology.
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