A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found a surprising link between work burnout and developing unhealthy habits that lead to weight gain.
“We have so many things coming at us every day, and we only have so much energy,” said lead author Heather Padilla, faculty member and researcher in the Workplace Health Group at the University of Georgia’s (UGA) College of Public Health. “When our energy gets used up, we don’t have the energy to make ideal decisions about what we eat.”
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, more than two-thirds of working adults in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese. These individuals also have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes and various cardiovascular issues. Most companies would delve into introducing nutritional guidelines, having easier access to healthier foods and even access to a gym as a means to encourage their employees to lose weight. However, job demands are rarely integrated into the various weight-loss intervention programs available today.
Researchers from the University of Georgia (UGA) aimed to evaluate the relationship between exhaustion, workload, and key health behaviors for weight loss — i.e. physical activity and nutrition. To do so, they recruited 1,000 men and women working full-time jobs to answer a survey regarding their workloads and their level of exhaustion or burnout because of said workload. The researchers also asked the participants about their eating behaviors and exercise habits.
The results of their research show that those who have heavier workloads are the ones who are more likely to emotionally eat, pick food that has more fat and eat without stopping. Participants who experience work burnout also exhibit the same unhealthy behaviors, including exercising less — all of which are factors for weight gain potential.
Padilla claims that the findings were not shocking, but pointed out that there is a greater need to understand how job workload and demands affect health issues like obesity.
“We spend so many of our waking hours at work,” she said. “These findings require us to think about how our work affects our health behaviors and self-care.”
The researchers concluded that worksite weight-loss programs and weight management programs should look into integrating ways to assess workload and exhaustion. They also suggested that companies should address high workload or exhaustion through behavioral therapy.
Job burnout is defined as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation.” This feeling is often the result of job stress rooted from overwork or a heavy workload. The UGA study established that this burnout could lead to adverse health effects, especially regarding your weight. This emphasizes the need to curb the signs of burnout as soon as you can. Below are a few strategies you can adopt to put yourself on the right path. (Related: Fight burnout with Rhodiola rosea.)
Burnout is more than a bad day or a bad week. Finding out ways to curb work burnout can lead you to a healthier life.