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Serving the fast food nation: Exploring body mass index in food service workers

TitleServing the fast food nation: Exploring body mass index in food service workers
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsWoodhall-Melnik, J., Cooke M., and Bigelow P. L.
JournalWork: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation
Pages901 - 909
Keywordsbody mass index, food service work, obesity, overweight, social determinants of health

BACKGROUND:Obesity is a public health concern in North America. Consumption of food prepared outside of the home is often discussed as a contributing factor. OBJECTIVE:To determine whether or not Canadian food service workers are more likely to have high Body Mass Indices (BMIs) as compared with the general population, and to examine factors that contribute to BMI in this population. METHODS:Analyses of secondary survey data from Cycle 5.1 of the Canadian Community Health Survey were performed. Descriptive statistics were generated to examine food service workers’ risk of having above normal BMI compared to other Canadians. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors contributing to variation in BMI among food service workers. Analyses were stratified by age. RESULTS:Canadian food service workers are less likely to have BMIs in the overweight and obese ranges than the general population. Stratification by age demonstrated that this decreased risk can be attributed to the fact that food service workers tend to be younger than the general population. As age increases among food service workers, the odds of having a BMI in the overweight and obese ranges increases. CONCLUSIONS:Food service workers in general were not at higher risk for high BMI, but those between the ages of 41 and 64 are at higher risk of having a BMI in the overweight or obese ranges. The findings suggest that proximity to food service outlets may not be the most salient factor in explaining BMI.