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Does stress at work lead to weight gain?

A recent study conducted in Sweden investigated the effect of high job demands on weight gain in both men and women.

During the last few decades, an increase in body mass index (BMI) has been observed in the general population, with experts predicting a rise in future obesity rates. We all know that eating too much and moving too little leads to weight gain. But what about other psychosocial factors? How much of a role does mental stress play in causing weight gain?

A Swedish study followed men and women over a 20-year period investigated the link between body weight, work demands, and control at work. Study participants were followed up between the age of 30 to 50 or 40 to 60. The results of the study were published in the journal International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health.

Increased pressure at work leads to weight gain

The results of this study, which included 3,872 participants, showed that increased pressure at work leads to weight gain in women with academic education having no influence. Study participants were asked questions regarding their work speed, psychological pressure and if they felt that they were given plenty of time to complete their tasks. The results also revealed that both men and women who had less control in their work gained weight more frequently

This study provides important information in terms of public health. The researchers of this study highlighted that identifying individuals who have increased levels of work-related stress means that changes can then be made to reduce these pressures, which could decrease weight gain and the associated negative health effects such as cardiovascular disease.

Written by Jade Marie Evans, MPharm, Medical Writer

1) Klingberg, S. et al 2019. Occupational stress is associated with major long-term weight gain in a Swedish population-based cohort. [Online]. [29 May 2019]. Available from:

2) Eurekalert. 2019. Women gain weight when job demands are high. [Online]. [29 May 2019]. Available from:

Jade Evans MPharm
Jade Evans MPharm
Jade obtained her Master of Pharmacy degree from Cardiff University, UK in 2015 and then went on to work as a Pharmacist within the NHS, across both the hospital and community sectors. In 2017, she began her work for the medical news bulletin and moved to Perth, Australia. She is now working at Perth Children’s Hospital working in the Anaesthetic and Pain Management Research Group.


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