Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2011;37(1):45-53    pdf


Does stress at work make you gain weight? A two-year longitudinal study

by Berset M, Semmer NK, Elfering A, Jacobshagen N, Meier LL

Objectives Research concerning the association between stress at work and body mass index (BMI) has mainly focused on two models (ie, job demand–control and effort–reward imbalance) as predictors and mostly been cross-sectional. The aim of our study is to extend previous research in two ways. First, social stressors – in the sense of social conflict and animosities at work – were included as an independent variable, arguing that they should be an especially promising predictor as they reflect a “social-evaluative threat”. Second, a longitudinal design was employed with a two-year follow-up. In addition, the variables specified by the job demand–control model and the effort–reward imbalance model were assessed as well.

Methods Participants comprised 72 employees (52 men, 20 women) from a Swiss service provider. Multiple regression analyses were used to predict BMI two years later with social stressors, effort–reward imbalance, demands, control, and the interaction of demands and control. Baseline BMI was controlled so that the dependent variable reflects the change in BMI over two years.

Results Regression analyses revealed control and social stressors to be statistically significant predictors of follow-up BMI, while effort–reward imbalance was marginally significant.

Conclusions The results underscore the importance of social stressors and job control as predictors of stress-related impaired health.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2006;32(1):5-11  2006;32(6):473-481
The following articles refer to this text: 2013;39(3):217-220; 2013;39(3):241-258