Burnt-out women more likely to overeat

Erin Van Der Meer
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Burnt-out women more likely to overeat
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Do visits to the vending machine help you get through a long day at work? Research into the link between a woman's job satisfaction and her eating habits has found that being unhappy at work can have a negative impact on your diet and health.

The study, conducted by a research team in Finland and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the lifestyles of a group of 230 working women aged 30 to 35, 22 percent of which reported some level of 'work burn-out' prior to the study.

The results of the study showed that the burnt-out workers were far more likely to 'emotionally eat' - that is seek comfort in food when they felt stressed, anxious or depressed.

The same women were also much more likely to report feeling out-of-control when it came to what, how often and how much they ate.

Study leader Nina Nevanpera of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health said that treating a woman's stress and exhaustion could have a positive flow-on effect to her diet.

"We recommend that burnout should be treated first and that burnout and eating behaviour should be evaluated in obesity treatment" Nevanpera said.

"Those experiencing burnout may be more vulnerable to emotional eating and uncontrolled eating and have a hindered ability to make changes in their eating behaviour."

But will emotional eating make you heavier? Apparently not, at least according to the study results. Nevanpera and her team found that the women who over-ate were not significantly heavier than their less-stressed counterparts.

Nevanpera said this could be because women with work burnout are often employed in jobs that require a higher level of education. Studies have also shown a correlation between higher levels of education and lower body weight.

However, Nevanpera said emotional eating is still a dangerous behaviour, as poor diet habits often lead to weight gain later in life. Also, people experiencing stress are more likely to reach for a sugar-hit in the form of chocolate or biscuits than a piece of fruit or nuts.

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