Working late affects women’s eating habits

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: October 27th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Working into the wee hours could earn you extra cash or brownie points with the boss.

But for women, those extra hours spent in the office could mean a dinner of brownies, or at least that stale honey bun from the vending machine.

New research shows that women who spend long hours working are more likely to crave fattening and sugary snacks, skip exercise and smoke cigarettes than men who keep the same hectic schedules.

British researchers made the discovery while studying how everyday stress influences eating habits.

The study shows that an annoyance as small as misplacing your car keys in the morning can affect the number of vegetables you eat during the day. The researchers say people under stress, even minor stress, tend to eat less for dinner, snack more between meals and turn toward high-fat and sugary foods.

The most common culprits causing people to snack were mental stressors, such as making a presentation to the boss or arguing. Headaches and other physical stress actually caused people to snack less.

Emotional eaters, who tend to turn toward food in a crisis anyway, were the most susceptible to snacking to cope with the daily grind.

The researchers did find that workers who keep long hours drink less alcohol, but overall, they say it’s best to temper stress to keep unhealthy eating habits at bay.

That honey bun might look good late at night, but maintaining a balanced diet reduces the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease over time.