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Job Fatigue and Long Hours May Set the Scene for Extra Pounds

May 17, 2005 -- Work fatigue and overtime hours may raise the risk of gaining weight, new research shows.

Does that mean that people are seeking solace at the vending machine for their job frustrations? Are they too exhausted to exercise and cook healthy meals in their free time? Do extra pounds mean it's time to update your resume or structure a more balanced life?

Those are big questions, and the answers aren't clear yet. The cycle of eating, emotions, and energy is complex and can reinforce itself. Dissatisfaction in one part of life can spill into other areas and vice versa.

For some people, job angst and long hours may be one piece of the puzzle, suggests a new study in the International Journal of Obesity.

When Work Is a Burden

The study included more than 7,000 women and about 1,800 men working in government jobs in Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

The bureaucrats were asked if they'd gained weight in the last year. They also reported the number of hours they worked and rated their "worker fatigue."

Curious about how you would rate? See how many of these statements you agree with:

  • I feel totally worn out after a day at work.
  • I feel tired in the morning when I have to get up and go to work.
  • I have to work too hard.
  • I feel like I'm totally exhausted.
  • My work is definitely too stressful.
  • I worry about my work even when I'm off duty.

Agreeing with four or more of those statements qualified as high work fatigue. Intermediate work fatigue was defined as agreeing with up to three of those statements. Overtime was working more than 40 hours per week.

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