Work Stress, Weight Gain and Weight Loss: Evidence for Bidirectional Effects of Job Strain on Body Mass Index in the Whitehall II Study

University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
International Journal of Obesity (Impact Factor: 5). 07/2006; 30(6):982-7. DOI: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803229
Source: PubMed


Previous research has focused on overall associations between work stress and body mass index (BMI) ignoring the possibility that stress may cause some people to eat less and lose weight and others to eat more. Using longitudinal data, we studied whether work stress induced weight loss in lean individuals and weight gain in overweight individuals.
Prospective cohort study.
A total of 7965 British civil servants (5547 men and 2418 women) aged 35-55 at study entry (The Whitehall II study).
Work stress, indicated by the job strain model and measured as job control, job demands and job strain, was assessed at baseline and BMI at baseline and at 5-year follow-up.
In men, the effect of job strain on weight gain and weight loss was dependent on baseline BMI (P</=0.03). In the leanest quintile (BMI<22 kg/m(2)) at baseline, high job strain and low job control were associated with weight loss by follow-up, whereas among those in the highest BMI quintile (>27 kg/m(2)), these stress indicators were associated with subsequent weight gain. No corresponding interaction was seen among women.
Inconsistent findings reported by previous studies of stress and BMI have generally been interpreted to indicate the absence of an association. In light of our results, the possibility of differential effects of work stress should also be taken into account.

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Available from: Eric Brunner, Oct 04, 2015
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    • "Likewise, BMI is also important, where among male civil servants, the effect of job strain on weight gain and weight loss was subject to baseline BMI. In the leanest quintile, at baseline, high job strain and low job control were associated with weight loss by follow-up, whereas for those in the highest BMI quintile, these stress indicators were associated with subsequent weight gain (Kivimäki et al. 2006). Few studies on eating habits have been undertaken in Finland, especially among university students, and across a range of food groups. "
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    ABSTRACT: We examined perceived stress and food intake at University of Turku, Finland. This study was conducted as an online survey (1189 students). We computed two composite food intake pattern scores (sweets, cakes and snacks; fruits and vegetables), a dietary guideline adherence index, and the subjective importance of healthy eating. We assessed the correlations between perceived stress, and two food intake pattern scores, dietary guideline adherence index and subjective importance of healthy eating. We tested the associations between stress and the same variables, controlling for potential confounders for the whole sample, by gender, and by Body Mass Index (BMI). Fruits and vegetables intake and dietary guideline adherence were both negatively associated with stress. These negative associations were more pronounced in overweight and less pronounced in underweight compared to healthy weight students. Sweets, cookies and snacks consumption were not associated with stress. Stress was associated with lower subjective importance of healthy eating, independent of gender and BMI. Perceived stress might have relationships of different magnitudes in overweight vs. normal BMI or underweight persons. BMI could be an effect modifier of the stress-food habits association.
    International Journal of Public Health 07/2015; 60(6). DOI:10.1007/s00038-015-0717-4 · 2.70 Impact Factor
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    • "Studies have addressed the relationship between work environment and health behaviours, including physical activity, weight change and smoking behaviour (Albertsen et al., 2004; Allard et al., 2011; Brisson et al., 2000; Kivimaki et al., 2006a; Kouvonen et al., 2005a,b; Lallukka et al., 2008). It has been suggested that health related behaviours, such as drinking, smoking and physical activity mediates the relationship between work environment and health outcomes (Albertsen et al., 2006; Brunner et al., 2007; Gimeno et al., 2009; Kivimaki et al., 2006b). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective Previous research has indicated that health behaviours tend to cluster in social networks, but few have studied the cluster effect in workgroups. We examined the effect of workgroups on current state and change in three indicators of health behaviours (smoking, body mass index (BMI) and physical activity). Further, we examined whether health behaviours of the respondents at group level predicted lifestyle changes. Methods In a prospective cohort (n = 4730), employees from 250 workgroups in the Danish eldercare sector answered questionnaires at baseline (2005) and follow-up (2006). Multilevel regression models were used to examine the effect of workgroups. Results Workgroups accounted for 6.49% of the variation in smoking status, 6.56% of amount smoked and 2.62% of the variation in current BMI. We found no significant workgroup clustering in physical activity or lifestyle changes. Furthermore, changes in smoking status (cessation) and weight gain were seen in workgroups with high percentage of smokers and high levels of BMI. Conclusion We found modest evidence for clustering of some health behaviours within workgroups, which could be due to social learning or selection into and out of workgroups. Future health promotion programs at worksites should recognize the potential clustering of lifestyle behaviours within workgroups.
    Preventive Medicine 10/2014; 67. DOI:10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.07.032 · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    • "For instance, men in lowactivity occupations have a higher probability of being obese relative to men in high-activity occupations (King et al., 2001). In addition, work-related stress has been associated obesity (Kivimäki et al., 2006; Schulte et al., 2007). The EHDIC-SWB data were collected in a lowincome urban population and these findings may not generalize to other minority groups, rural and suburban areas, and higher SES groups. "
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    ABSTRACT: National data indicate that Black men have higher rates of obesity than White men. Black men also experience earlier onset of many chronic conditions and premature mortality linked to obesity. Explanations for these disparities have been underexplored, and existing national-level studies may be limited in their ability to explicate these long-standing patterns. National data generally do not account for race differences in risk exposures resulting from racial segregation or the confounding between race and socioeconomic status. Therefore, these differences in obesity may be a function of social environment rather than race. This study examined disparities in obesity among Black and White men living in the same social and environmental conditions, who have similar education levels and incomes using data from the Exploring Health Disparities in Integrated Communities-SWB (EHDIC-SWB) study. The findings were compared with the 2003 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Logistic regression was used to examine the association between race and obesity adjusting for demographics, socioeconomic status, and health conditions. In the NHIS, Black men had a higher odds of obesity (odds ratio = 1.29, 95% confidence interval = 1.12-1.49) than White men. However in the EHDIC-SWB, which accounts for social and environmental conditions of where these men live, Black men had similar odds of obesity (odds ratio = 1.06, 95% confidence interval = 0.70-1.62) compared with White men. These data highlight the importance of the role that setting plays in understanding race disparities in obesity among men. Social environment may be a key determinant of health when seeking to understand race disparities in obesity among Black and White men.
    American journal of men's health 09/2014; 9(6). DOI:10.1177/1557988314551197 · 1.15 Impact Factor
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