Long working hours and change in body weight: analysis of individual-participant data from 19 cohort studies

TitleLong working hours and change in body weight: analysis of individual-participant data from 19 cohort studies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsVirtanen, M, Jokela, M, Lallukka, T, Hanson, LMagnusson, Pentti, J, Nyberg, ST, Alfredsson, L, G Batty, D, Casini, A, Clays, E, DeBacquer, D, Ervasti, J, Fransson, E, Halonen, JI, Head, J, Kittel, F, Knutsson, A, Leineweber, C, Nordin, M, Oksanen, T, Pietiläinen, O, Rahkonen, O, Salo, P, Singh-Manoux, A, Stenholm, S, Suominen, SB, Theorell, T, Vahtera, J, Westerholm, P, Westerlund, H, Kivimäki, M
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Pagination1368 - 1375
ISBN Number1476-5497
KeywordsPreventive medicine, Risk Factors

To examine the relation between long working hours and change in body mass index (BMI).

We performed random effects meta-analyses using individual-participant data from 19 cohort studies from Europe, US and Australia (n = 122,078), with a mean of 4.4-year follow-up. Working hours were measured at baseline and categorised as part time (<35 h/week), standard weekly hours (35–40 h, reference), 41–48 h, 49–54 h and ≥55 h/week (long working hours). There were four outcomes at follow-up: (1) overweight/obesity (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) or (2) overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2) among participants without overweight/obesity at baseline; (3) obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) among participants with overweight at baseline, and (4) weight loss among participants with obesity at baseline.

Of the 61,143 participants without overweight/obesity at baseline, 20.2% had overweight/obesity at follow-up. Compared with standard weekly working hours, the age-, sex- and socioeconomic status-adjusted relative risk (RR) of overweight/obesity was 0.95 (95% CI 0.90–1.00) for part-time work, 1.07 (1.02–1.12) for 41–48 weekly working hours, 1.09 (1.03–1.16) for 49–54 h and 1.17 (1.08–1.27) for long working hours (P for trend <0.0001). The findings were similar after multivariable adjustment and in subgroup analyses. Long working hours were associated with an excess risk of shift from normal weight to overweight rather than from overweight to obesity. Long working hours were not associated with weight loss among participants with obesity.

This analysis of large individual-participant data suggests a small excess risk of overweight among the healthy-weight people who work long hours.

Short TitleInternational Journal of Obesity
Citation Key10804