Job strain and binge eating among Brazilian workers participating in the ELSA-Brasil study: does BMI matter?

J Occup Health. 2017 May 25;59(3):247-255. doi: 10.1539/joh.16-0157-OA. Epub 2017 Feb 4.


Objective: To assess the association between job strain and binge eating as well as the effect-modifying influence of body mass index (BMI) on this association.

Methods: A total of 11,951 active civil servants from the multicenter Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) was included in this cross-sectional analysis. Job strain was assessed using the Demand-Control-Support Questionnaire. Binge eating was defined as eating a large amount of food with a sense of lack of control over what and how much is eaten in less than 2 hours at least twice a week. Multiple logistic regression was used to determine the association between binge eating and job strain as well as its interaction with BMI.

Results: After adjustment, and using low-strain job as the reference category, binge eating was associated with high-strain job (high demand/low control: odds ratio [OR]=1.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.26-1.98), active job (high demand/high control: OR=1.35, 95% CI 1.07-1.70), and passive job (low demand/low control: OR=1.24, 95% CI 1.01-1.53). Psychological job demands were positively associated with binge eating (OR=1.04, 95% CI 1.01-1.07), while greater job control and social support at work were each inversely associated with binge eating (OR=0.95, 95% CI 0.92-0.97 and OR=0.96, 95% CI 0.94-0.98, respectively). BMI modified the association between job strain and binge eating: Heavier psychological job demands were associated with higher odds of binge eating among obese participants, while a stronger inverse association between job control and binge eating was seen among slimmer participants.

Conclusions: Job strain increases the odds of binge eating and this association is modified by BMI.

Keywords: Feeding and eating disorders; Obesity; Psychological stress; Work.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Bulimia / epidemiology*
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Effect Modifier, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace