Sedentary work, low physical job demand, and obesity in US workers

Am J Ind Med. 2010 Nov;53(11):1088-101. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20886.


Background: Little is known about the role of low physical activity at work (sedentary work or low physical job demand) in the increasing prevalence of obesity of US workers.

Methods: This cross-sectional and secondary data analysis included 1,001 male and 1,018 female workers (age range: 32-69) from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) II study (2004-2006). Sedentary work and physical job demand were measured by questionnaire items. Total obesity (based on body mass index) and central obesity (based on waist circumference) were defined using WHO criteria.

Results: After controlling for covariates (socio-demographic, psychosocial working conditions, health status, and health behaviors), sedentary work, low physical job demand, or their combination increased the risk for total and central obesity in male workers, particularly when they worked longer than 40 hr per week. Sedentary work marginally increased the risk for total and central obesity in female workers.

Conclusions: Low physical activity at work is a significant risk factor for total and central obesity in middle-aged US male workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference
  • Work / statistics & numerical data*