Most people don’t need additional reasons to dislike their job. On a sunny Friday in the middle of the summer, the majority of folks would rather be outside doing something fun rather than being glued to their computer at a cubicle.
But just in case you were looking for another reason to loathe the 9-5, I’ve got the study for you!
You may recall a previous post in which I discussed the results of a small study that found the following:
a) During work days people sat for 110 minutes more than on their leisure days (597 min/day vs. 484 min/day).
b) Conversely, work days were associated with less standing and walking in contrast to leisure days (a difference of 76 min/day).
c) Based on calculations, the authors approximated that during leisure days people expend an additional 59 calories through walking than on word days (586 vs 527 calories). This may not seem like a lot, but the lack of expending 300kcals every week can really add up over the year (15 600 kcals/year or ~5 lbs of fat/year).
A new study just came out in the International Journal of Obesity that looks at the influence of our jobs on changes to our health over time. Specifically the authors followed a total of 9276 Australian women aged 45–50 years for 2 years, and assessed the effect of employment and hours worked on weight change during that period.
NERD ALERT: How was the study done? (Skip ahead to next paragraph if your eyes glaze over during discussion of statistical models)
The authors uses quantile regression to estimate the impact of labour status on weight change, controlling for potentially confounding factors in the relationship between labour status and weight change. Factors controlled for in the statistical models included: age, ethnic background, marital status, region of residence, highest education level attained, household income, menopause, smoking, as well as occupation groups (manager; professional; trades person; service; and manual labour) for the analyses of work hours and weight change. Labour status was either represented by employment status (for the total sample) or work hours (for the employed sample). To be frank, this is one of those papers where the statistician clearly went a bit nuts and over-analyzed the data making interpretation nearly impossible.
What did the authors find?
1. On average, all employment groups showed an increase in weight over the 2 years, which in itself is interesting.
2. There was no difference in physical activity levels based on employment status (employed, unemployed, or not in the work force).
3. Employed women had a significantly greater increase in weight than unemployed women and women not in the workforce (1.6% vs. 0.98% vs. 1.2%, respectively).
3b. After controlling for self-reported health, women out of the workforce still gained significantly less weight than employed women. However, unemployed and employed women did not differ in changes in weight status once self-reported health was considered.
4. Women who spent more hours at work experienced more weight gain relative to women who worked part-time, regardless of self-reported health status.
So what should you do?
While quitting your job may not be a viable option, being cognizant enough to increase your normal amount of activity at work is likely a good idea. You can refer to our Top 10 Ways to Become Active for some ideas.
Have a great weekend!
Reference: Au N, Hauck K, Hollingsworth B. Employment, work hours and weight gain among middle-aged women. Int J Obes (Lond). 2012 Jun 19. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.92. [Epub ahead of print]