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Rochester study connects workplace turmoil, stress and obesity
Date:3/24/2010

Blood Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to investigate ways to influence people's dietary and physical activity at work. The company that agreed to participate in the study was involved in drastic restructuring and layoffs. In interviews the employees confided to researchers that they were "stress eating" and burned out from "doing the work of five people," researchers reported.

Stressful working conditions are known to impact health behaviors directly and indirectly. Directly, stress can affect the neuroendocrine system, resulting in abdominal fat, for example, or it may cause a decrease in sex hormones, which often leads to weight gain. Indirectly stress is linked to the consumptions of too many fatty or sugary foods and inactivity.

The research team measured psychosocial work conditions through a detailed job questionnaire. Interventions were planned and employees who worked at intervention worksites participated in a comprehensive, two-year nutrition and exercise program. This included walking routes at work, portion control in food, and stress-reduction workshops. The data comparing control groups and the groups who took part in the nutrition and exercise program is still being analyzed, Fernandez said.

However, while analyzing baseline data investigators discovered that employees working in the most high-job-strain conditions had almost one BMI unit more of weight than people who worked in more passive areas. Researchers did not find that chronic stressors (general dissatisfaction at work) and acute stressors (being a layoff survivor, or having entire operations decommissioned) together had a larger effect on weight than when examined independently.

Diet was evaluated solely by the number of servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and probably had no influence on weight status because assessing diet in this way might not be a good measurement of quality or quantity, Fernandez said. A better way to
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Contact: Leslie Orr
Leslie_Orr@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-5774
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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