Common risk factors for changes in body weight and psychological well-being in Japanese male middle-aged workers

Environ Health Prev Med. 2009 Nov;14(6):319-27. doi: 10.1007/s12199-009-0100-2. Epub 2009 Aug 5.


Objectives: Overweight and poor psychological well-being are becoming serious health issues in the Japanese workplace. Concurrence of those physical and mental conditions has been pointed out, especially in middle-aged workers. Therefore, we tried to determine common risk factors for body weight gain and the deterioration of psychological well-being in male middle-aged office workers using a five-year follow-up study.

Methods: We administered General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12) as an indicator of psychological well-being to 110 male workers with ages ranging from 40-59 years, and analyzed the influence of several psychological factors, namely sense of coherence (SOC), health locus of control (HLC), and lifestyle variables such as exercise frequency, alcohol intake, smoking status, and dietary intake on changes of body mass index and GHQ-12 score.

Results: McNemar's chi-squared test showed significant concurrence of weight gain and deterioration of psychological well-being after five-year follow-up. Low-SOC score, low frequency of exercise, and high-dietary intake at supper were significantly associated with both weight gain and poorer psychological well-being in workers, results which were supported by multiple regression analysis.

Conclusions: These results suggest that exercise and calorie restriction seem to prevent weight gain and promote psychological well-being in workers. Low SOC, which implies difficulty in coping with stress, may be an important risk factor not only for deterioration of psychological well-being but also for becoming overweight. These assumptions must be confirmed by conducting future intervention studies on SOC and lifestyle including exercise and eating behavior.