Overworking has been linked to a number of unpleasant side effects, including impaired cognitive function and an increased risk of depression, heart disease, and heart attack.
It might be time to add diabetes to the list, at least for people of lower socioeconomic status.
In a recent study published in The Lancet, researchers looked at data from 19 studies of more than 220,000 people and found that people who worked more than 55 hours a week were more likely to have Type 2 diabetes than the average worker.
However, this correlation held true only for low-income workers.
The study’s authors were not positive why the link exists, speculating that it could be one of three reasons.
One is that people of low socioeconomic status who work long hours might also suffer other hardships (not related to work) — and it’s those difficulties that are causing them to get diabetes at a higher frequency.
Another is that working long hours prevents people from getting enough of other healthy behaviours like sleep, exercise, social interaction — and perhaps even precludes them from having the time to maintain a nutritious diet.
The third is that working too hard is itself hazardous to people’s health because doing so has negative effects on people’s happiness and personal growth. However, the study’s authors suggest that this last theory is less likely to be the answer than the first two.
“If being at work for more than 55 hours per week is bad for metabolic health, then we ought to see an effect also in workers with a high socioeconomic status,” the authors write. “The fact that we do not see it suggests that the association is driven by confounding or indirect effects on other risk factors.”
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