Precarious work associated with high BMI — ScienceDaily

A study from the University of Illinois at Chicago links precarious work to an increase in body mass index. The study adds to a growing body of evidence that precarious work can contribute to poor health outcomes.

The UIC scientists who wrote the paper defined precarious work as an accumulation of “adverse aspects of employment,” such as low wages, precarious employment contracts, irregular hours and lack of union representation.

“In recent decades, there has been an increase in the number of Americans engaged in precarious work — we see this with the rise of the ‘gig’ economy or the number of people working at ride-sharing companies, for example. With millions of Americans now engaged in precarious work, we need to pay more attention to the health effects of the type of employment,” said study author Vanessa Oddo, assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition in the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences.

To understand the impact of precarious work on BMI, the researchers analyzed 20 years of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth cohort of adults (1996-2016). The average age of the participants was 44.

They examined seven dimensions of precarious employment — material rewards, work time arrangements, job stability, and collective organization, for example — and identified 13 self-reported indicators of precarious employment. Computational and statistical models were used to compare these indicators with BMI, a rough indicator of obesity.

Rates of precarious employment were higher among Latinas and black women with less education. A 1-point increase in precarious employment was associated with a 2.18-point increase in BMI.

The findings are reported in Portliness.

The researchers say that “these modest changes in BMI may have important population-level implications, as small changes in weight affect chronic disease risk.

“Workplace policies and interventions to improve employment quality are warranted to protect American workers and mitigate the growing burden of obesity-related chronic disease in the United States,” the authors write.

The study was primarily supported by a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (R00MD012807). Additional support was provided by the National Institute on Aging (R01AG060011) and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (F31MD013357).

(tagsTo Translate)Health in the workplace? Portliness; Adolescent health? Health Policy? Diseases and conditions? Chronic disease? Public Health Education? Appropriateness

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