An Australian study recently discovered that the type of decisions you make at work can affect the size of your waistline. It’s been known for a long time that added responsibilities at work can increase stress. And, in turn, chronically increased stress levels can lead to obesity.
However, this is the first study to look at what type of work responsibility leads to weight gain. And the results are surprising.
Two types of workplace responsibility were studied, skill discretion and decision authority. Skill discretion describes a work environment where the worker is skilled and has the freedom to use those skills in order to do his or her job. Decision authority describes a work environment where the worker is required to make a lot of decisions.
Both types of workplace control can affect your waistline. But one type is good for your Body Mass Index (BMI) and the other is bad!
The study looked at 450 individual workers, 230 female and 220 male, mostly middle aged. The participants worked in a variety of blue- and white-collared jobs examined. After adjusting for sex, age, household income, work hours and job nature the study found that people working in a job that they were skilled at and had the freedom to use those skills (skill discretion) were more likely to have lower BMIs and smaller waistlines than those who had to make a lot of decisions in their work.
“Many people point to ‘eating too much and not moving enough’ as the cause of obesity,” Bean said. “While this might explain how weight gain often happens, it does not acknowledge things such as environmental, psychological, social or cultural factors – these are some of the important why reasons that obesity happens,” lead author Christopher Bean.
There have been other studies on the effects of Decision Fatigue may have on people. One study examined the decisions of over one thousand parole judgements over a ten month period. The study looked at factors that might influence a judge’s decision to grant parole to a prisoner. Surprisingly, the single biggest factor was not the crime, or the prisoner’s record, but the time of day that the decision was made.
“We find that the percentage of favorable rulings drops gradually from [roughly] 65% to nearly zero within each decision session and returns abruptly to [roughly] 65% after a break.” – Danzigera et al
The judges gave favourable judgements at the start of the day and immediately after lunch. In general the judges granted parole in 65% of cases at these times. However, as the morning or afternoon wore on the chances of a favourable judgement steadily fell to zero!
“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make,” Barack Obama
Some researchers think that the reason that some powerful men make poor decisions in their private live is down to decision fatigue. After a long day of decisions, a person’s self-control is weakened. We appear to be able to make only a certain amount of good decisions before it all becomes too tiring. Then we make bad decisions, like eating unhealthily, not exercising and possibly engaging in damaging affairs.
So, try to cut down on decisions! Set your clothes out at the end of the previous day and plan your lunches. You don’t want your health and life goals to suffer because you think you’d like the black socks with the blue stripe today!