Reaching for a bit of cake when you feel blue or tucking into some ice cream when you’re getting over heartbreak is nothing new, but a new survey suggests stress is causing people to turn to food in unprecedented numbers.
According to a team at market research company Mintel, as many as one in three workers feel so stressed about their job they use calorific food like doughnuts and biscuits to cope. Things are particularly bad in the 35 to 44 age bracket, with one in four feeling so worried about deadlines they dip into fatty and sugary snacks.
The study also found people tend to see food as an instant way to help with stress, so use it more regularly than exercise or instead of talking over their problems. On top of this, four in 10 fathers put their career above their family, with one in four mothers doing the same. It’s thought this is in part because of money worries and the desire to provide for children.
“Eating comfort food is the number one thing working Brits have done to tackle work stress in the past 12 months with 33 per cent of workers saying they’ve done this, followed by 30per cent who have turned to alcohol and one in seven – 15 per cent – who have smoked or vaped,” the Mintel team explained.
It seems stress is a very real problem, with 70 per cent of those spoken to admitting they’ve suffered from it.
There is hope on the horizon though, with 29 per cent of people stating exercise has helped them overcome stress. Others confided in friends and family, while seven per cent turned to a professional for help with coping.
It’s thought part of the problem are the hours people are working, which have been extended more and more over the years. Almost of half of people check or answer work email when they are out of the office too, which means they don’t have time to switch off and are also working more hours than required.
One in ten people don’t bother taking a lunch break either, with two in five doing so a couple of times a week.
“Rising work pressures are having a detrimental impact on people’s wellbeing,” senior consumer lifestyle analyst at Mintel, Ina Mitskavets, warned.
“But this presents forward-thinking companies with opportunities to come up with creative ways of encouraging employees to embrace a healthier balance, which could result in greater staff retention and loyalty.”
Some of the suggestions are that workers should be banned from checking email after hours or that companies should partner with gyms to offer low-cost membership.