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Corporate Wellness Advisor

Workplace Stress and Obesity

March 29, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Corporate Wellness Programs, Employee Health Programs
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Workplace Stress and Obesity

In case you needed more good reasons to aim for a calm and harmonious office environment, a new study shows that workplace stress is strongly connected to obesity.

The detrimental combination of on-the-job stress and low levels of physical activity is commonplace in the American workforce, and consequently, so is obesity. University of Rochester Medical Center researchers also found that diet did little to offset the effect of weight gain among employees facing chronic stress at work; physical activity proved a more crucial factor in stress management and weight control.

In a workforce fraught with layoffs, employees who struggle with uncertain job security experience heightened stress on a daily basis. The people involved in this study were employed in a company that was, like many, undergoing widespread restructuring and layoffs. Some workers claimed they didn’t take the time to eat well or engage in physical activity during lunch breaks because they were afraid to be away from their desks for too long, and many reported burnout from absorbing the workloads of laid-off employees.

Long, tense workdays in a stressful environment can encourage self-soothing (but not necessarily healthy) behavior away from work, such as indulging in comfort food, stress-eating, and vegging out in front of the TV instead of channeling stress into physical activity. Approximately 75% of the study participants were overweight or obese, and more than 65% reported that they watch two or more hours of television a day.

Considering the effect of stress on weight and overall health, wellness programs at work are perhaps more important in the current economy than ever before. Strive to help your employees not only by encouraging a healthy lifestyle, but also by doing your part to decrease stressors in the workplace.

Some tips from HelpGuide.org:

  • Improve communication. Encourage open discussion about company affairs so that workers feel better informed about issues that could affect their employment.
  • Examine workloads. Talk to employees about their stress levels in relation to job responsibilities. If a worker feels overwhelmed or finds the workload unmanageable, discuss ways to adjust his or her responsibilities accordingly.
  • Offer praise. Recognize a job well done, and take every opportunity to show valued employees that their efforts are appreciated.
  • Encourage interaction. Provide opportunities for employees to get together outside the office to strengthen or cultivate friendships.
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    One Response to “Workplace Stress and Obesity”

    1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bernie S. Dyme, Nutricion Activa. Nutricion Activa said: Estrés en el trabajo = Obesidad. http://bit.ly/bXJljE [...]

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