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Are Stress and Sedentary Lifestyles Making Us Fat?

A recent study in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine published in January 2010 shows that chronic job stress and lack of physical activity are strongly associated with being overweight or obese. This was not earth shattering news for me.  However, it did state that over 68% of adults in America are overweight! The lead author goes on to discuss that workplace wellness programs are the first step in increasing the health of our workers.

Lead author Diana Fernandez, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the URMC Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, said her study is among many that associate high job pressure with cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, depression, exhaustion, anxiety and weight gain. It’s time to improve corporate policies that better protect the health of workers.

“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.”

Over and over, Fernandez’s team heard the same story from the upstate workers: after spending the day sitting in stressful meetings or at their computers, they looked forward to going home and “vegging out” in front of the TV.

Anecdotally, researchers also discovered that when pink slips were circulating, the snacks highest in fats and calories would disappear quickest from the vending machines. Some workers said they did not take the time to eat well or exercise at lunch because they were fearful of repercussions from leaving their desks for too long.

Approximately 32 percent of adult men and 35 percent of adult women are obese in this country. When the prevalence of overweight and obesity are combined, 68 percent of adults fit the category (72 percent prevalence among men; 64 percent among women), according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In conclusion, the study suggests that workplace wellness programs should not only offer ideas on how to be healthy, but should examine the organizational structure and provide ways to minimize a stressful environment for everyone.

Read the full article here.

Source: University of Rochester Medical Center (2010, March 25). Study connects workplace turmoil, stress and obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved Apr 15.

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One Comment

  1. […] were able to stand or walk. This sedentary lifestyle, paired with typical office stress, can really make you fat. Consider using a standing desk, turning a balance ball into your chair, or just getting up […]

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