Work stress leads to overeating, researchers say

By Bill Levesque • Published: November 30th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Work stress might cost you some sleep — and also expand your waistline. Researchers call it “eating your feelings.”

A recent study that included two University of Florida researchers found that workplace stress causes employees to more frequently take their woes to the fridge at night for some unhealthy food. But a good night’s sleep before work tends to offset this harmful habit.

Researchers looked at 235 Chinese workers. One group worked in information technology and felt as if they never had enough time to finish their work. A second group worked in a call center where they often were berated by angry, unreasonable customers.

All that angst generates a negative mood among workers, the researchers said, which led to unhealthy eating at home. They found unhealthy eating also can be a consequence of a loss of self-control brought on by working in stressful conditions that make you feel trapped.

Eating can be a defense mechanism. Nobody wants to deal with those bad feelings — we want to be happy. And what makes us happier than having a tasty treat? “Eating your feelings” is a common saying the researchers borrowed to form part of the title of their paper, which was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The study included researchers from the University of Illinois, Auburn University and Michigan State.

The researchers said it’s probably not a good idea for companies to offer workers food-related job perks. Instead, they suggest bosses consider sleep-awareness training, because a good night’s sleep can serve as a protective buffer between stress and binge eating.

So, here’s one more thing to blame on the boss — making you fat.