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Work-related stress, burnout may contribute to weight gain: study

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Athens, GA — If your heavy workload leaves you exhausted, you may be more likely to engage in some unhealthy behaviors that can lead to weight gain, a recent study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Georgia conducted an online survey of 953 full-time adult workers. Participants were asked about their workload and whether they felt exhausted or burned out, as well as their eating and exercise habits.

Workers who reported heavier workloads tended to emotionally eat, eat uncontrollably and have fattier diets. Meanwhile, participants who said they felt exhausted did the same – and also exercised less.

“We have so many things coming at us every day, and we only have so much energy,” lead author Heather Padilla, faculty member and researcher in the Workplace Health Group at the UGA College of Public Health, said in a June 4 press release. “When our energy gets used up, we don’t have the energy to make ideal decisions about what we eat.”

Workplace weight loss and weight management programs, the researchers said, should include an assessment of workload and exhaustion, which also can be addressed by behavioral therapy.


“We spend so many of our waking hours at work,” Padilla said in the release. “These findings require us to think about how our work affects our health behaviors and self-care.”

The study was published online May 30 in the Journal of Health Psychology.

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