Researchers in Australia recently looked beyond diet and exercise to see if something else may be contributing to weight gain and obesity: the type of work people do and whether or not that work requires a high level of decision making on a daily basis.
The new study focused on two main aspects of job control—skill discretion and decision authority. Skill discretion refers to the freedom to choose and apply one’s skills in the workplace, while those with decision authority are tasked with making frequent important decisions throughout the day. And as it turns out, people in the latter group tend to have wider waistlines and a higher body mass index (BMI) overall.
Participants included 450 middle-aged men and women chosen from a variety of blue- and white-collar jobs. After measuring their height, weight, and waist circumference, researchers relied on the widely used Job Demand-Control-Support (JDCS) model to evaluate how certain aspects of their occupations affected their overall well-being.
In the past, skill discretion and decision authority have been lumped together when looking at their effects on obesity. However, lead author and PhD candidate Christopher Bean believes this may need to change, since there was a notable distinction between the two—mainly that people who are under pressure to make constant decisions at work have a higher risk of obesity when compared with those who are not.
The study was published last month in the journal Social Science & Medicine.