Wellbeing & Benefits

Women nearly twice as likely to comfort eat in order to deal with stress than men, according to new research. 42% of women admit that stress has this effect on them – compared with just 26% of men, according to a study of 3,000 UK workers carried out by Perkbox, the UK’s fastest growing employee benefits platform, as part of the 2018 UK Workplace Stress Report.

What’s more, those not in relationships are amongst the most likely to turn to food in times of stress, with 42% doing this compared with just 28% of those living with partners and 29% of those who are married.

But while men tend to be better at resisting comfort eating, they are more likely than women to turn to potentially harmful stimulants – such as coffee, nicotine and alcohol – to cope with stress. Almost 1 in 4 (23%) of men will do this during times of stress compared to just 13% of women.

Chieu Cao, CMO & Co-Founder at Perkbox, said: “It’s fascinating to see how differently men and women cope with stress. Clearly, comfort eating is a hugely popular form of stress relief within the UK workforce. But this is not a healthy method of stress relief, and can lead to overeating and, as a result, obesity.

“Relying on stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine – all of which, ironically, actually contribute to stress, tension and anxiety – is also a common but unhealthy method of stress relief. And it is especially interesting to see how much more of an issue this is amongst the male workforce.”

Cao continues: “Overeating or turning to alcohol, caffeine or nicotine can have negative effects on our health. Bosses should to be careful to limit junk food and alcohol-related perks as incentives for staff. There are numerous benefits that businesses can offer which promote physical and mental health, yet are still strongly desired by staff. For example, exercise through the form of; office sports teams, free or discounted gym membership, free yoga classes and mindfulness are all ‘perks’ that play into healthy coping mechanisms for stress, yet are relatively inexpensive for businesses to set up.”

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