Precarious work associated with high BMI — ScienceDaily

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

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

“Over the past few decades, the number of Americans engaged in precarious work has increased — we see this with the rise of the ‘gig’ economy or the number of people working for ride-sharing companies, for example. With millions of Americans now engaged in precarious work, we need to pay closer attention to the health impacts of the type of employment,” said study author Vanessa Oddo, assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition in the College of Applied Health Sciences UIC.

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

They looked at seven aspects of precarious employment – ​​relevant remuneration, working time arrangements, job stability and collective organisation, for example – and identified 13 self-reported survey indicators of precarious employment. Computational and statistical models were used to compare these indicators with BMI, a rough indicator of obesity.

Indicators of precarious employment were highest among Latina and Black women with lower education. A 1 point increase in precarious employment was associated with a 2.18 point increase in BMI.

The results are reported in Obesity.

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

“Workplace policies and interventions to improve employment quality need to be considered to protect American workers and alleviate the growing burden of obesity-related chronic diseases in the United States,” the authors wrote.

The study was supported primarily by a grant from the National Institute for Minor 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).

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