If you find yourself wolfing down a bag of chips or a package of cookies after a bad day at the office, here's some news that might interest you: Overweight men and women tend to pack on pounds from job stress and financial pressures, a study shows.

Researchers analyzed national data on 1,355 men and women who had their weight and stress levels measured in 1995 and again in 2004. Among the findings in the American Journal of Epidemiology:

Men who were already overweight or obese tended to pack on pounds over the years if they had job-related stress or difficulty paying their bills.
• Heavy women tended to gain from more types of stress including difficulty paying bills, job demands, strained family relationships and feeling a lack of control in their lives.
The stress effect didn't appear to impact normal-weight people, just those who are were overweight or obese from the beginning of the study," says lead author Jason Block, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School.
"This tells us that periods of stress, like we are experiencing right now with the economic decline, can lead to even more weight gain among those who already have a weight problem," he says. "And weight-loss programs should incorporate stress-reduction techniques as part of their plans to help people lose weight more successfully."
The work was funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute on Aging.
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