For many women, balancing a career and a household is almost second nature. Between taking care of kids, preparing meals, managing the house and then all of the tasks that come with holding onto a career, it is a surprise that women are able to handle a day’s worth of tasks in a mere 24 hours. A lot of women refer to those after-work responsibilities of child and home care as the second shift, and it is true that attempting to manage all of the household does really come out to feel like a second job.
If you are one of those women who are working full-time while still baring the responsibility for the majority of household and child-related tasks, then you may not be surprised to learn that statistically, women who work are more likely to gain weight and be overweight than are women who make home-care their full-time job.
The Work and Weight Relationship
Women account for about 51 percent of the active workforce in the United States, but almost 30 percent of women who are otherwise eligible to work opt not to, and instead stay home and take care of the kids and the household. While staying at home might have once been the norm for many women, the current 30 percent is actually a bit higher than it was just 10 years ago—a fact that won’t surprise many working women who are all-too familiar with the costs of childcare and the fatigue-inducing to-do list that comes with managing both job and home-life.
Recently, an Australian research team looked at the health differences between women who stayed at home and women who worked, and found that on average, women who worked full-time weighed more and had higher BMIs than women who worked either part-time only, or did not work outside the home at all. They found that women who worked more than 40 hours per week weighed almost two percent more on average than women who didn’t work at all.
What is the reason for this weight gain? Stress is definitely a factor, but so is time management. For working women who have a lot of home-related responsibilities, it is difficult to find the time to fit in healthy meals and regular workouts, but this is important for self-care and weight management. Spending 40 hours or even more than that a week in front of a computer or cooped up at a desk is not healthy, especially not for the waist line. What is interesting is that this workload-weight gain relationship isn’t unique for women. Studies have found that men who are responsible for caring for the household themselves are also more likely to gain weight, particularly following a divorce.
The good news for the working woman is that medical weight loss programs are designed to fit into a busy schedule, so if you are struggling with a bit of extra weight, there are options available to help you feel and look healthy.