Physical activity, weight gain and occupational health among call centre employees

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Abstract

Background

A need exists to address ergonomic, weight gain and obesity risks in sedentary occupations.

Aim

To determine relationships between body mass index (BMI), weight gain, ergonomic and exercise variables in sedentary workers.

Methods

An anonymous questionnaire was administered regarding body weight, height, weight gained since employment, body part discomfort, shift fatigue, time to achieve job adaptation, physical activity, fitness centre membership, previous employment type and previous injury.

Results

Subjects were 393 volunteers (mean age 34 years, 71% female) employed in a call centre. Sixty-eight per cent of participants gained weight averaging 0.9 kg/month for 8 months. Significant findings (P < 0.05) were as follows: non-obese individuals gained less weight than obese individuals, fitness club members had higher BMIs and weight gains than non-members, previously injured individuals gained more weight than non-injured individuals, non-weight gainers reported higher metabolic equivalent-min/week expenditure in relation to vigorous exercise.

Conclusions

Participants reported substantial weight gain over a period of 8 months. In contrast to walking and moderate exercise, only vigorous exercise was significantly associated with non-weight gain. Three risk factors were identified for weight gain: obese when hired, history of previous injury and lack of vigorous exercise.

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