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Work stress, television viewing, and caffeine promote obesity

Saturday, January 01, 2011 by: Celeste M. Smucker, MPH, PhD
Tags: obesity, stress, health news

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(NewsTarget) Obesity may be the most critical health challenge we face today. In the United States almost 70% of us are considered to be overweight including almost one-third who qualify as obese. Obesity comes with a big price tag. A recent estimate found that the medical care costs of obesity related conditions such as coronary artery disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea and respiratory problems are $168 billion annually. While the causes of obesity are complex, there appear to be links to work stress, hours sitting in front of a TV and caffeine.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester looked at the causes of and solutions to obesity in employees at a manufacturing facility in upstate New York. In a preliminary evaluation of baseline data from 2800 professional level male employees, researchers found the prevalence of obesity mirrored that in the general population. However, those in more stressful positions had almost a BMI unit more of weight than did those in less demanding jobs.

The same study found that over 65% of these employees watched two or more hours of television a day. Many relayed to the researchers that job stress tired them out and they looked forward to relaxing in front of the TV when they got home. For those who watched two to three hours of television a day, the probability of obesity increased by 150%.

This connection between TV time and obesity has also been observed in other research. For example, a study conducted by the University of Vermont studied the relationship between TV time and calorie expenditure for two groups of obese adults. One group had no limit to their TV time. The other was limited to 3 hours a day when a monitor attached to their set automatically turned it off. Those who spent less time in front of their TV burned an average of 119 more calories daily which translated to weight loss of half a pound per week. These study participants didn't suddenly start a vigorous exercise program as soon as their televisions went off. Instead, the authors suggest that since it takes so little energy to watch TV just about any other activity burns more calories.

Neither of these studies addressed caffeine, which is ubiquitous at home or work as coffee, tea or soda. There is good evidence that excess caffeine promotes eating through its impact on cortisol levels and blood sugar. Excess caffeine also causes anxiety raising stress levels.

What can we conclude from this information? First, preliminary results from the New York study suggest that for reducing job stress, exercise was more effective than diet. In other words, to relieve stress at work, start by introducing some form of exercise into your day, even if it is just a quick walk at lunchtime. This in turn will help with weight loss.

Second, when you get home from work, leave the TV off, or be selective about the time spent watching it. Then talk to your kids, take your dog for a walk or work in the yard. Remember, just about anything except sleep, burns more calories than watching TV.

Third, to help minimize the negative effects of caffeine enjoy a cup or two of your favorite beverage in the morning. Then switch to hot or cold tea made from one of the adaptogenic herbs such as Gynostemma. This sweet flavored Chinese tea helps relieve stress, reduce cholesterol and even out blood sugar. It is also known to help regulate weight, promoting either weight gain or weight loss as needed by the individual.


University of Rochester Medical Center (2010, March 25). Study connects workplace turmoil, stress and obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com-/releases/2010/0...

University of Vermont study connects TV time with obesity. Rodale.com. Retrieved October 31, 2010 from http://www.rodale.com/watching-too-much-tv?p...

How Can Caffeine Cause Weight Gain? http://obesity.ygoy.com/2009/10/05/caffeine-...


About the author

Celeste Smucker is a writer, editor and author of a book of inspirational messages available at www.soldonme.com. She has a longstanding interest in health care and alternative health solutions and is a student of effective online marketing techniques. Visit
Lighten Up Weight Loss for an ever growing site about health,wellness, and weight loss.

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