09. Work Stress and Food Choices

Carol M. Devine, Nutritional Science, and colleagues found that workers with long hours, inflexible schedules, and shift work have inadequate time and energy to feed their families as well as they would like. The effects of their low-status, heavy work-loaded jobs affect the health and well-being of the entire family and can be more threatening than stress and financial insecurity. Workers cope with demanding jobs by relying on take-out from fast food restaurants and too much junk food. They also skip meals and eat on the run. Feelings of inadequacy and guilt may also interfere with the perceptions of how well the workers can perform their parental and spousal roles. The study revealed that although both men and women are negatively affected, women with children feel the greatest strain of job spillover to family life. The researchers found that workers view healthful eating, sacrificed during the juggle of work demands and family needs, as a temporary necessity. The study included low- and middle-income adults in an urban upstate New York area. The research highlights the need to see workers within their large social and family contexts, in which food choices are embedded, instead of viewing workers only at the workplace.

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