Looking at another study that was done a few years ago, the researchers reviewed data from 450 participants who worked in a variety of different industries and positions, both blue and white collar jobs. The participants’ height, weight, and waist circumferences were measured in a clinic, and thereafter telephonic interviews were conducted to get their work information. The psycho-social dynamics of their jobs were assessed using the Job Demand-Control-Support model.
The study explains that there are two ways that one can have control in the workplace: decision authority and skills discretion. According to Science Daily, traditionally when an employee’s job level was increased it was believed to be a good thing, the assumption being that the two job control factors were non-disparate as far as health was concerned. This new study suggests that these two job control aspects should actually be considered as two separate realities with very different consequences.
“Many people point to ‘eating too much and not moving enough’ as the cause of obesity,” said lead author Christopher Bean, a health psychology PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide. “While this might explain how weight gain often happens, it does not acknowledge things such as environmental, psychological, social or cultural factors . . . these are some of the important reasons why that obesity happens.”
The study looked at the two job control factors separately and after considering other factors such as gender, age, household income, work hours and job nature, the researchers found that skills discretion and decision authority had a really close association with obesity, but had opposite effects.
“When looking at the wide system of factors that cause and maintain obesity, work stress is just a small part of a very large and tangled network of interactive factors,” said Bean. “On the other hand, work is a fundamental part of life for many, so it is important to find innovative ways of extending our understanding of how factors at work may be implicated in the development and maintenance of obesity. It is important to challenge the status quo and explore unexpected or counter-intuitive findings with curiosity.”