Researchers have found the long work hours an increasing number of women put in at the office made them highly susceptible to weight gain.
It’s a problem that has plagued male workers for decades, but with more Australian women now working full-time, many are finding their waistlines are expanding in line with their male colleagues’.
The study, led by Monash University’s Dr Nicole Au and published in the International Journal of Obesity, examined the impact employment status and number of hours worked had on middle-aged women’s weight. Researchers examined the working lives of 9,276 women, aged 45 to 50 years, using the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health for 1996 and 1998. It found those who worked more than 35 hours a week were more likely to experience weight gain. Over the two years, the women gained an average 1.5% of their initial weight, while extreme weight gain also occurred. Women working more than 49 hours were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol; 65% drank at risky levels and 36% did not do any physical activity.
Au said longer working hours and increased weight gain appeared to be occurring because women were spending less time maintaining their health and fitness. “More than 60% of Australian adults are now overweight or obese, representing a serious public health concern,” she said. “The study highlights the growing number of Australian women entering the workforce and the effects on their ability to maintain a healthy weight.”
Au suggested extended work hours may reduce the time spent preparing home-cooked meals, exercising and sleeping; factors influencing obesity. “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.”
Source: Thomson Reuters’ HR Report, 8 August 2012.