Employers want their workers to be healthy—both for insurance-cost and humane reasons—but aspects of those very jobs can make workers sick. A study published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that workers who toiled for more than 40 hours per week or were exposed to a hostile work environment were significantly more likely to be obese.
Both of those are fairly intuitive—long hours at the office can make it hard to squeeze in exercise, and dealing with, shall we say, “a strong personality” all day can make it tempting to indulge in an extra helping of curly fries. (A more tragic explanation would be that people who are already obese are more likely to be harassed at work.)
But surprisingly, the researchers also found that certain industries and occupations in and of themselves correlate with higher obesity rates, even when controlling for the demographic makeup of those jobs.
The study authors used data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey and connected it to self-reported weight and height information, as well as industry and occupation codes from the Census. For the hostility factor, they asked workers: “During the past 12 months were you threatened, bullied, or harassed by anyone while you were on the job?” (The obesity rate was 13 percent higher among those who said yes.)