Low wage, heavy-labor workers at risk for obesity: study

November 14, 2012

Boston – The risk of obesity is not limited to people with a sedentary lifestyle – it also can pose a risk to workers whose jobs are low wage and entail heavy labor, according to a study (.pdf file) released Nov. 13.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and two advocacy groups spoke with 92 low-wage minority workers from occupations including housekeeping, construction and other blue-collar jobs about how working conditions impact their weight.

Through interviews and focus groups, workers reported several factors that influence their body weight, including a physically demanding job that leaves them too tired to exercise outside work, time restrictions that make it difficult to eat a healthy meal, and limited access to healthy food in their workplace.

Researchers recommended that employers take working conditions into account as part of obesity or wellness programs, and provide adequate time and space for healthy meals. In addition, workers could benefit from recommendations traditionally given to sedentary workers, including taking the stairs or walking to work.