Women who frequently work long hours and eat out may pile on the pounds

Warnings have been released this week in regards to women at work and their weight. Firstly, an Australian study claims that women who put in more than 35 hours at work each week are likely to gain weight. The researchers say that those who stay late at the office will probably not bother spending the time to prepare a healthy meal when they get home, or engage in any exercise.

The same study also indicates that those women who are working for more than 49 hours each week are at a higher chance of smoking and drinking more. This backs up what we reported last week, where we analysed the links between work and alcohol intake.

Research was led by Dr Nicole Au from the Centre for Health and Economics at Monash University, Melbourne. Dr Au and her team assessed 9,276 women aged between 45 to 50 years old, spanning over a two year time period. Over half (55%) gained weight during this time, with the average gain being 1.5% of their initial weight. The above average weight gains were said to be ‘extreme’. In addition, it was discovered that 65% of subjects involved had a ‘risky’ level of alcohol intake and 36% did not bother to do any kind of exercise at all.

Dr Au gave some explanations on why the women may have piled on the pounds, saying, “This study highlights the increasing number of women entering the workforce and the effects on their ability to maintain a healthy weight. Longer work hours may reduce the time spent preparing home-cooked meals, exercising and sleeping which are risk factors for obesity. Policies that assist women who work long hours to reduce the time costs of sustaining a healthy diet and their physical activity routine may have positive benefits.”

In a separate study that has been published online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics, links between women who ate out often and weight gain were investigated. The news may come as a blow to women at work who regularly ‘meet the girls’ for their lunch-break and share a joke about abandoning their diet for the day (which usually spirals into more days!).

Dr Anne McTiernan led the study and she spoke on the findings, saying, “When it comes to weight loss, evidence from randomised, controlled trials comparing different diets finds that restricting total calories is more important than diet composition such as low-fat versus low-carbohydrate. Therefore, the specific aim of our study was to identify behaviours that supported the global goal of calorie reduction.”

Her team discovered that the women who maintained a personal food diary, actually lost around 6lbs more than the others. Also it was noted that women who ate out at least once a week lost an average of 5lbs less than those who instead opted to eat at home.

Dr McTiernan added, “For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the No. 1 piece of advice based on these study results would be to keep a food journal to help meet daily calorie goals.  It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating. We also think skipping meals might cluster together with other behaviours. For instance, the lack of time and effort spent on planning and preparing meals may lead a person to skip meals and/or eat out more. Eating in restaurants usually means less individual control over ingredients and cooking methods, as well as larger portion sizes.”

However, some could argue that the study results do not fairly reflect a large population of the women around the country. After all, the analysis came from just 123 women who were aged 50 to 75. All were assigned specific diets and exercise patterns, with each woman being overweight or obese to begin with. Perhaps a better, more accurate study would have centred on women from all age groups and a higher number of the population than just 123 women. In addition, allowing subjects to eat their usual foods would have brought back different results without question.

With 30,000 Brits dying each year from various complications from obesity, both men and women need to consider how best to maintain their weight and health. Government predictions say that with current trends continuing, by 2025 nearly half of men and over a third of women will be obese.

You can act today though and make positive changes to your life. Firstly, an intelligent new calculator has been created by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Click here  to see where you are on both a national and global scale. You may just receive the shock required to kick-start a new you!

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