Stressful jobs cause women to gain weight – but not men: Juggling careers and running the home means women eat too much and don’t exercise, study finds
- Women gain weight over 10-to-20 years if they feel they lack control in their jobs
- Feeling overwhelmed at work may demotivate females to eat healthily
- Stress triggers the release of cortisol, which can lead to ‘muffin tops’
Stressful jobs cause women to pile on the pounds later down the road – but not men, research suggests.
A study of more than 3,800 people found women who struggle to cope with their workloads or feel they have little control over their careers are more likely to gain weight over the next ten-to-20 years.
Feeling overwhelmed at work may demotivate women, making them more likely to be lazy or overindulge in fattening foods, the researchers claim.
Stress also triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which helps ‘lay down’ fat around the midriff, leading to ‘muffin tops’, they add.
Women may be more affected than men as they often juggle ‘job demands and the greater responsibility for the home’.
Stressful jobs cause women to pile on the pounds later down the road – but not men (stock)
The research was carried out by the University of Gothenburg and led by Sofia Klingberg, a researcher in community medicine and public health.
‘When it came to the level of demands at work, only the women were affected,’ Ms Klingberg said.
‘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.’
Obesity is on the rise, with 26 per cent of adults in the UK being classified with the eating disorder in 2016, compared to just 15 per cent in 1993, NHS Digital statistics show.
And more than two in three adults in the US are overweight or obese, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
To investigate the effects of job stress on weight gain, the researchers analysed 3,872 participants of the Västerbotten Intervention Program (VIP).
Since its inception in 1985, the VIP has invited residents of the Västerbotten county – north Sweden – for a health examination when they reach ‘age milestones’.
DRUG THAT ‘TURNS OFF YOUR CRAVINGS’ COULD BE POSSIBLE
Scientists have edged one step closer to creating a drug that turns off our cravings for pizza, burgers and chips.
A brain circuit that tempts rats into indulging in unhealthy food was spotted by researchers earlier this month.
Tests showed that when this circuit was ‘turned off’, the rodents stopped seeking the fattening delicacies.
The researchers – at the University of Texas, Galveston – hope their study will pave the way for a drug to help combat the temptation to tuck into a chocolate bar.
The study’s participants were followed either from 30-to-50 or 40-to-60 years old.
This involved them being weighed, and asked about their diet, three times over the 20 years.
Stress was determined by asking the participants about their workloads, how much time they have to complete tasks and if the demands made of them contradict themselves.
At the start of the study, 27 per cent of the women and 39 per cent of the men were overweight or obese.
Over the next decade, 33.5 per cent of the female participants and 26 per cent of the males gained ten or more per cent of their body weight.
The average weight gain was 10.1lbs for the women and 11.2lbs for the men.
And in the next 20 years, 48.9 per cent of the women and 43.7 per cent of the men had gained at least ten per cent of their body weight.
This averaged as a 1st 1lb (15lbs) weight gain for the women and 1st 1.6lbs (15.9lbs) for the men.
Results – published in the journal International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health – suggest only women pile on the pounds if they have demanding workloads.
The female participants who struggled to cope at work gained around 20 per cent more than those with easy-going careers.
This remained true even after diet and physical activity levels were taken into account.
The researchers concluded that further studies should investigate how job stress leads to weight gain in different parts of the body.
Helping those unable to cope at work could stop them piling on the pounds, which may reduce their risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, they added.
DOES YOUR JOB HAVE HIGH DEMANDS? TAKE THIS TEST TO FIND OUT
Job demands, 4 to 16 points (11 or more points = high demands)
Does your work demand you to work very fast?
No almost never=1
Is your work mentally strenuous?
No almost never=1
Do you have enough time for your assignments?
No almost never=4
Does your work involve conflicting demands?
No almost never=1