Middle-aged women who work longer than 35 hours a week are more likely to gain weight, according to new research from Monash University.
The study analysed 9276 women aged 45 to 50 and found 55 percent of them gained weight in two years. On average, the women gained 1.5 percent of their initial weight.
The researchers, who compared data from the 1996 and 1998 Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health, believe long working hours are to blame.
"The study highlights the growing number of Australian women entering the workforce and the effects on their ability to maintain a healthy weight," Dr Nicole Au said.
"Extended work hours may reduce the time spent preparing home-cooked meals, exercising and sleeping, which are risk factors for obesity."
With more than 60 percent of Australian adults considered overweight or obese, Dr Au says it's a serious health concern.
“Policies that assist women who work long hours to reduce the time costs of sustaining a healthy diet and their physical activity routine may have positive benefits,” she said.
Women who work in excess of 49 hours per week were also found to be more likely to smoke, drink at risky levels and not engage in exercise.
The study was published in the International Journal of Obesity.