Many of us have jobs where we just feel like work is making us sick, and in some cases, the jobs can actually make us sick — physically.
Recently, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that employees in stressful job situations who worked more than 40 hours a week were more likely to be obese. Of course this assumption might seem like a no-brainer, as people working late, sitting for hours, and eating unhealthy food don’t have time to prepare anything healthy since they're so over-worked.
The research was pulled from data using the National Health Interview Survey, which included 15,000 working adults. To form the data, they used self-reported weight and height information, and industry and occupation codes from the Census. They also asked the workers, “During the past 12 months, were you threatened, bullied, or harassed by anyone while you were on the job?” Those who said "yes" had a 13 percent higher obesity rate. However, this statistic might be a bit misleading, since sometimes people who are already obese are more likely to be harassed or bullied — it might be that they were obese and bullying was the result.
The industries with the highest obesity rates were manufacturing, healthcare/social assistance, transportation/warehousing, information, utilities, and public administration. After the authors adjusted for race, gender, and smoking, healthcare/social assistance and public administration employees were the ones with a higher-than-average obesity rate.
Protective service workers such as cops had the highest prevalence of obesity at 40 percent. After adjusting for other factors such as demographics, engineers, office administrators, and social-service, workers had unusually high obesity rates.
It was also interesting to see that people who worked in health services, especially clerical staff, had a much higher obesity rate than doctors and nurse-practitioners. This might be due to the wage disparity. The authors also think the obesity rates could be due to certain characteristics of the jobs: Doctors and nurses are usually on their feet all day, while receptionists are usually sitting.
Being able to identify these work-health associations is important if employers want to attain and/or maintain a healthy staff. Healthier employees lead to people taking less time off, fewer insurance expenses, and more productivity.