“Women gain weight when job demands are high”

11 February 2019

Academics at a Swedish university have concluded that heavy pressures at work seem to predispose women to weight gain.

The claim was made based on a study of around 3800 people carried out by researchers at the University of Gothenburg and published in the journal International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health.

The women and men in the study were investigated on three occasions over a 20-year period with respect to such variables as body weight and demands and control at work.

To estimate the level of job demands, the respondents were asked about their work pace and psychological pressures, for example.

The questions about control at work covered whether the respondent was personally able to choose what to do and how to do it for example.

The results show that the respondents with a low degree of control in their work more frequently gained considerable weight, defined as a weight gain of 10% or more, in the course of the study. This applied to women and men alike.

On the other hand, long-term exposure to high job demands played a part only for women. In just over half of the women who had been subjected to high demands, a major increase in weight took place over the 20 years. This gain in weight was some 20% higher than in women subject to low job demands.

Dr Sofia Klingberg, the study's lead author, said, "We were able to see that high job demands played a part in women's weight gain, while for men there was no association between high demands and weight gain.

"When it came to the level of demands at work, only the women were affected. We haven't investigated the underlying causes, but it may conceivably be about a combination of job demands and the greater responsibility for the home that women often assume. This may make it difficult to find time to exercise and live a healthy life."