Have you been gaining weight but you have no idea why? You might be surprised, but if your job makes you feel stressed out, doesn’t allow you to get enough sleep, and requires you to sit down for hours, then it can be the cause of your weight gain. In fact, your job can be responsible for your weight gain because weight management is often affected by three key factors: your stress level, the amount of activity that your job permits, and your sleep schedule.
How Your Job Makes You Gain Weight
Many factors can lead to stress in the workplace such as having too much or not enough work, having unpleasant interactions with coworkers, or having a job that takes a toll on your emotions. It’s very common for people to turn to food as a way to cope with stress in these working environments.
Unfortunately, when you’re stressed you probably don’t crave fruits and vegetables, but sugary, salty, and fatty foods because they are comforting. Studies find that these types of foods can be addictive because they make you feel good and you crave them more when you’re stressed. Over time, eating many high-sugar and high-fat foods can lead to excessive weight gain and may affect your metabolism and the hormones that regulate appetite. (4)
Diet and nutrition is important for weight loss, but physical activity also plays a significant role. However, it can be challenging to find time to exercise or even go for a walk when your job doesn’t allow you to get up from your chair for hours.
One study done on postal workers showed that a sedentary work life is responsible for weight gain. The postal workers were separated into two groups according to the type of work they did. One group had office-related tasks while the other group did deliveries. After seven days, the researchers measured the workers’ results and found that those who had more sitting time during their work hours had a larger waist circumference. (2)
Poor quality of sleep can have a negative effect on your overall health, but it can also negatively affect your weight management. If you have a job that requires night shifts or anything beyond the regular 9 to 5 schedule, you might find it challenging to manage your sleep.
A study recorded the sleep duration of almost 70,000 women for 16 years. The researchers noticed that women who slept for 5 or less hours gained more weight than those who slept an average of 7 hours. (3).
A different study explains that you can gain weight due to lack of sleep because the longer you’re awake, the more energy your body needs to sustain your wakefulness. You, therefore, eat because you’re hungry and having easy access to food forces you to eat more than you need. (1)
10 Jobs That Can Make You Gain Weight
The following jobs can make you gain weight because they can affect your sleep, stress levels, and physical activity.
1. Bus/Taxi Driver
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Bus and taxi drivers may work not only during the day, but also during the night and have to spend most of their time sitting.
2. Night Shift Custodian
Being a custodian is hard work and the multiple responsibilities and physical labor can be stressful. Add a night shift to this type of job and you may also get poor quality of sleep.
3. Office Administrator
Apart from the occasional trip to the printing machine, office work can give you limited physical activity and prolonged sitting time.
4. Lab Technician
The responsibilities of lab technicians, especially those who work in busy, fast-paced environments such as hospitals, can be stressful for those who don’t perform well under pressure.
5. Reservations Agent
Reservations agents usually work in hotels and have to talk to customers, so they have to be pleasant and friendly all the time, even to those who are rude. Trying your best to please unpleasant customers can take a toll on your emotions.
6. Event Coordinator
Being an event coordinator means that you have to spend long hours of sitting down with your clients to satisfy their demands and you also have to deal with the stress of making sure that everything goes as planned.
7. Police Officer
Police officers have to deal with extreme or dangerous situations which can affect them psychologically. They can also have night shifts and some police officers do office work.
Teachers have a lot of work to do because their work doesn’t finish at the end of the school day. They have to make lesson plans and grade papers at home, meet with parents, and deal with budget cuts and a demanding curriculum. These responsibilities can be stressful and leave small room for physical activity.
Nurses work in a high-stress environment because they have to care for sick and dying patients. Nurses can often have night or double shifts that leave them sleepless for many hours.
10. Mental Health Case Manager
Case managers help people with mental health challenges to improve their life by providing them services they need such as job or housing services. Each client has a unique case and case managers have to work long hours, call services, and advocate for their clients to give them the help they need.
Even if you love your job and you can’t imagine doing anything else, it’s true that it can have some disadvantages as all jobs do. To minimize the negative effects that your job maybe be having on you, add some relaxing essential oils in your workspace, do some exercises at work, and learn how to sleep better no matter when your shift is.
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(1) Markwald, R. R, Melanson, E. L., Smith, M. R., Higgins, J., Perreault, L., Eckel, R. H., & Wright, K. P. (2013). Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(14), 5695–5700.
(2) Patel, S. R., Malhotra, A., White, D. P., Gottlieb, D. J. & Hu, F. B. (2006). American Journal of Epidemiology, 164(10), 947-954.
(3) Tigbe, W. W., Granat, M. H., Sattar, N., Lean, M. E. J. (May 2017). Time spent in sedentary posture is associated with waist circumference and cardiovascular risk. International Journal of Obesity, 41(5), 689-696.
(4) Yau, Y. H. C. & Potenza, M. N. (2013). Stress and Eating Behaviors. Minerva Endocrinologica, 38(3), 255-267.
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