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.

Download full-text


Available from: Eric Brunner, Oct 04, 2015
  • Source
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · International Journal of Public Health
  • Source
    • "La relación entre el imc y el nivel de estrés no es novedad; la evidencia empírica señala que existe una asociación entre un alto índice de estresores familiares y la presencia de obesidad en niños y adolescentes (Garasky et al., 2009; Lohman et al., 2009 y Ozier et al., 2008); además, se ha detectado que hay una importante relación entre el nivel de estrés y un mayor consumo de comida (Epel et al., 2000; Gonzalvo, 2009; Greeno y Wing, 1994; Groesz et al., 2012; Kivimäki et al., 2006; Lowe y Kral, 2006; Macht et al., 2005 y Nguyen-Rodríguez et al., 2008). Lo que destacamos en este trabajo es la asociación entre imc y emociones como la ansiedad, donde, a mayor imc, mayor ansiedad; esto es acorde con lo reportado por Silva (2007) quien afirma que la rabia, la tristeza, el miedo y la ansiedad se relacionan con la sobrealimentación y que el efecto está mediado por variables cognitivas cuyo impacto se observa en particular en la ansiedad. "

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015
  • Source
    • "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). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Preventive Medicine
Show more