Work conditions affect diabetes risk, study finds

A new study from Tel Aviv University proves that work conditions really do have an influence on mental and physical health.

Specifically, the study found that low levels of social support in the workplace combined with high levels of stress could predict the development of diabetes - even for people who were otherwise healthy.

Researchers analyzed 5,843 individuals after they received routine physical exams. At the beginning of the study, none of the participants were diabetic and all were considered to be healthy.

To determine just how job stress and work environment contributed to physical health, the team used what they called an "expanded job strain model," which accounted for the participants' level of social support, workload and control over work-related objectives and deadlines.

Being over- or under-worked increases diabetes risk

The individuals were followed for a period of 41 months, during which 182 people developed diabetes. Participants who said they have high levels of social support were 22 percent less likely to develop the disease, while people who described themselves as either over- or under-worked had an 18 percent higher chance of developing the condition. The study also found that social support on its own could be a protective factor against diabetes.

"You don't want to see working populations have an increasing rate of diabetes," said Dr. Sharon Toker of the university's Faculty of Management. "It's costly to both employees and employers, resulting in absenteeism and triggering expensive medical insurance."

The results of the study also accounted for age, BMI, family history and activity levels.

Work-life balance, appropriate workload and social support important

In an era when job demands are higher than ever, the study sheds light on just how damaging negative work environments can be to physical health. Toker says it's important for employers to take into account the need for work-life balance, appropriate workloads and social support for employees.

The study is published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Source: Medical Xpress

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