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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UGA: Study Finds Link Between Burnout and Weight Gain

A new study from the University of Georgia has found that feeling overworked contributes to a variety of unhealthy behaviors that can cause weight gain.

Results from the study published in the Journal of Health Psychology point to the role work stress can play in our ability to adopt the necessary strategies to maintain a healthy weight.

“We have so many things coming at us every day, and we only have so much energy,” said lead author Dr. Heather Padilla, faculty and researcher in the Workplace Health Group at University of Georgia College of Public Health.

“When our energy gets used up, we don’t have the energy to make ideal decisions about what we eat.”

Despite the growing presence of workplace-based wellness and weight management programs, over two-thirds of working adults are overweight or obese.


Most worksite programs focus on things like nutrition education, access to healthy foods or access to a gym. Job demands are rarely, if ever, incorporated into weight loss interventions.

Dr. Padilla and her colleagues began to wonder if work stresses might be depleting the mental and physical energy employees needed make changes to their diets or fit in a workout.

The researchers recruited 1,000 men and women working in full-time jobs to answer questions about their workloads and exhaustion or burnout. They were also asked to report their eating and exercise habits.

The results of their analysis showed that employees with heavier workloads were more likely to emotionally eat, eat without stopping, and reach for fattier foods, and those who were burnout tended to do the same and exercise less.

Dr. Padilla said they do point to a greater need to understand how job demands affect issues like obesity.

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