Psychological workload and body weight: is there an association? A review of the literature

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BackgroundAccording to Karasek's Demond/Control Model, worked can be conceptualized as job strain, a combination of psychological job demands and control in the job. High job strain may result from high job demands combined with low job control.AimTo give an overview of the literature on the association between obesity and psychological workload.MethodWe carried out a review of the associations between psychological workload and body weight in men and women. In total, 10 cross-sectional studies were identified.ResultsThe review showed little evidence of a general association between psychological workload and body mass index. Only weak positive associations were found, and only between elements of psychological workload and over all body weight. For body fat distribution, two out of three studies showed a positive association in men, but the associations became insignificant after adjustment for education. For women, there was no evidence of a consistent association.ConclusionThe reviewed articles were not supportive of any associations between psychological workload and either general or abdominal obesity. Future epidemiological studies in this field should be prospective or experimental, and should examine how chronic work stress affects eating and to what extent initial body weight is a predictor for individual differences in perceived psychological workload.Received 3 December 2002; Revised 28 July 2003; Accepted 22 September 2003

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