London: Women who are over-worked or bored with their career are likelier to turn to comfort food like chocolates or biscuits, according to a Finnish study.
It found that women who reported work burnout were more likely to seek solace in emotional and ‘uncontrolled eating’.
“Those experiencing burnout may be more vulnerable to emotional eating and uncontrolled eating and have a hindered ability to make changes in their eating behaviour,” the Daily Mail quoted study leader Nina Nevanpera, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, as saying.
“We recommend that burnout should be treated first and that burnout and eating behaviour should be evaluated in obesity treatment,” she said.
The findings are based on 230 women aged 30 to 55 who were part of a clinical trial looking at healthy lifestyle changes. All were employed, and at the start of the trial they completed surveys on job burnout and eating habits.
Overall, 22 per cent of the women had some degree of work burnout. As a group, they scored higher on measures of emotional eating and uncontrolled eating.
On top of that, women who did not have job burnout at the study’s start tended to cut down on uncontrolled eating over one year. But, on average, the burnout group failed to make that change.
However, there was no obvious effect of burnout on the women’s weight. At the outset, half of the women reporting work burnout were normal weight - compared with a third of women reporting no burnout.
One reason might be education, Nevanpera said. Women with work burnout generally had a higher education level, and education, in turn, was linked to lower weight.
Still, she added, emotional eating is a potential risk factor for becoming heavy in the future. It is also not particularly healthy, since stressed-out people are more likely to reach for chocolate or fast food than an apple.
The study was reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.