07 NOVEMBER
2016

Why Obesity is More Common In Nurses Than You Think

Obesity is considered to be a widespread issue across the USA. It's also one of the biggest contributing factors towards grave health problems faced by many Americans. More Americans are on the road to becoming overweight. This has affected the health care professionals too, as they too weight higher before their counterparts in history.

Like most of the American, nurses too have high-stress jobs and lots of heavy weight responsibilities to shoulders which leads them to develop poor eating habits and not get enough sleep.

Many healthcare professionals, especially nurses, misjudge their BMI and fitness related risks consequential to nurses being overweight. In 2012 alone, researchers at the University of Maryland's School of Nursing found that more than half of the 2,103 female nurses they surveyed were obese. These nurses cited high job stress and irregular sleeping patterns to be the cause.

A study, which measured obesity using evaluation of body mass index, found that nursing schedules affected not only the health of the nurses but the quality of patient care as well.
Few of the main contributing factors toward obesity in nurses are:

1. No Proper Diet
We all are guilty of wolfing down quick sandwiches with sugary drinks when bent on time. Imagine doing this nearly every day? Nurses are always strapped for time due to their hectic schedule. This leads to the quick eating session which involves getting anything from the hospital vending machines, processed, fried, and junk foods or quick fixes like pop-tarts or bagels. High consumption of caffeine via coffee also adds to the calorie count.

2. Absence of Physical Activity
Running around long hallways and pulling shifts 8-12 hours at a time should be enough exercise, right? - Well, no. As it turns out, the quota for daily exercise is not met in nurses which leads to weight issues. It's recommended by American Heart Association that to improve overall cardiovascular health, at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).

3. No sleep routine
Last minutes shift changes, over time, the emergency shift due to weather conditions or code black can lead to one not getting enough sleep. Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep seems to be a far away, though. Recent studies have lead researchers to believe that shift work increases a person's risk for obesity. Based on the published literature comparing weight gain and night shift workers versus those who work day shift it is likely that there is a greater inclination to weight gain in those who work at night.

4. High Amount of Stress
Stress can cause havoc on one'd body and mind. It can lead to chronic depression, weight issues, migraines and cardiac issues. Stress to nurses come with the hectic routine and fast paced work style. Stress that goes unaddressed for long periods of time becomes a vital issue. Not only it leads to increase in appetite, leads to more storage of fat and reluctance to implement healthier lifestyle. Also, it has been found that 'Cortisol' is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland and is the key hormone involved in the body's response to stress both physical and emotional. Nurses working night shift are at greater risk for higher levels of cortisol due to job stress.

Nurses are role models for their patients. Their healthy indirectly impact their patients as well. A proper scheduling of shifts, time management training and access to healthy lunch options and encouragement of adopting healthier lifestyle can drastically change the obesity index among nurses.

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