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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Association between overweight, obesity and self-perceived job insecurity in German employees

Eva Muenster1, Heiko Rueger1, Elke Ochsmann2*, Stephan Letzel1 and André M Toschke3

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, University Medical Center of the University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany

2 Institute of Occupational and Social Medicine, University of Aachen, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

3 Department of Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, University of Munich, Munich, Germany

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:162  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-162

Published: 14 March 2011

Abstract

Background

Recent studies have shown an association between job insecurity and morbidity as well as mortality, however until now, knowledge about a potential association between job insecurity and overweight or obesity has been lacking.

Methods

In order to identify a possible association between job insecurity and overweight or obesity, we analysed data from the German Socioeconomic Panel (GSOEP) 2004/2005, a longitudinal study of private households in Germany. In this representative cohort of the German adult population, living and working conditions were observed. Data on Body Mass Index (BMI) and self-perceived probability of job loss within the next 2 years were available for 10,747 adults either employed or attending training programs.

Results

We identified 5,216 (49%) individuals as being overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2) and 1,358(13%) individuals as being obese (BMI > 30 kg/m2). A total of 5,941 (55%) participants reported having concerns regarding job insecurity. In the multivariate analysis - after adjustment for relevant confounders - a statistically significant association between obesity and job insecurity (100% probability for losing the job in the following two years) could be observed with an adjusted odds ratio of 2.55 (95% confidence interval: 1.09-5.96).

Conclusions

Because of these results, we were able to conclude that overweight and obese persons perceive job insecurity more often than their normal weight counterparts in Germany and that the concurrence of obesity and job insecurity might lead employees into a vicious cycle. Further research with an emphasis on the occupational setting might be necessary in order to establish useful preventive programmes at the workplace.