• nurses;
  • job busyness;
  • job influence;
  • weight changes;
  • prospective study


Objective: High job demands and low job influence may be associated with subsequent weight gain. Predisposition to obesity may further modify such associations. The purpose of the study was to determine whether familial predisposition to obesity modified associations between psychological workload and 6-year weight changes among nurses.

Research Methods and Procedures: A total of 6404 Danish nurses 45 to 65 years old, who belonged to the workforce in both 1993 and 1999, answered a questionnaire on psychological workload, body weight, and familial obesity. Women were considered to be predisposed to obesity if they were overweight and had at least one obese parent. Parents’ body shape was reported using pictograms.

Results: An increased psychological workload, reflected by high job demands and low influence in job, was associated with an increased body weight. This was particularly the case for nurses being predisposed to obesity, suggesting a synergy between familial obesity predisposition and the psychological workload environment. An interaction test among job demands, familial predisposition to obesity, and weight gain on adjusted data was made. The test showed p = 0.05. The adjusted interaction test among influence in job, familial predisposition to obesity, and weight gain showed p = 0.02.

Predisposed nurses who were busy in their job gained 4.4 kg, whereas other nurses gained only 3.2 kg during the 6 years. Similarly, nurses predisposed to obesity with low influence in job had a higher body weight gain (5.4 vs. 3.2 kg) compared with other nurses.

Discussion: High psychological workload due to high job demands and low influence in job seems to predict weight gain in general and, in particular, among those nurses with a familial predisposition to obesity.