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Gaining authority at work can make you pile on pounds

According to a study by the University of Adelaide, gaining authority at work can make you pile on the pounds.

Psychologists interviewed 450 middle-aged men and women who worked in a variety of jobs. Researchers found that those who had to make a lot of decisions in their jobs tended to have a bigger waist size compared to those without such responsibility.

The psychologists suggested that the pressure of making too many decisions could lead to stress eating, and the way in which the body handles food.

Using the ‘Job-Demand-Control-Support’ model, the researchers were able to work out not only whether the individual had control at work, but what form this control took.

Control in a job can be broadly separated into two types: skill discretion – having the opportunity to learn and use skills and low levels of repetitiveness – and decision authority, which is about making decisions and being more autonomous.

A 36-unit scale was used to measure the amount of these two types of control. The findings showed that while skill discretion was linked to a smaller waist size, decision authority was linked to a bigger waist size.

Writing in the journal Social Science & Medicine, ‘Employees with high decision authority may feel overwhelmed by the number of decisions required of them, or poorly defined choices in their work.’ 


’Excessive choice has been suggested to cause negative emotions,’ adding that having a lot of responsibility ‘can be perceived as a burden’.

‘The perception of too much decision authority may lead to increased stress, resulting in increased food consumption and changes in the way the body processes food, leading to excess fat accumulation.’