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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA gets grant to study weight gain and job loss

    Shane+Bekian+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AStudent+stands+on+a+scale+at+the+UA+Rec+Center+on+Wednesday%2C+Oct.+8%2C+2014.+
    Shane Bekian
    Shane Bekian / The Daily Wildcat Student stands on a scale at the UA Rec Center on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014.

    Losing your job is one thing, but when it drives you down an unhealthy road, that’s another. Researchers at the UA will be looking at the relationship between job loss and weight gain.

    According to Patricia Haynes, a clinical psychologist and an assistant professor of psychiatry, job loss not only leads to monetary strains but can also contribute to gain in weight as well.

    Haynes and her collaborators recently received a $3.1 million grant in order to study this phenomenon. The research team will be recruiting a total of 250 subjects for the study, starting in January of next year.

    Haynes said that the aim of the research is to examine the relationship between sleep and daily routine and how that affects weight in individuals who have recently involuntarily lost their jobs.

    Graciela Silva, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing and one of Hayne’s collaborators on the project, said that past studies have looked at weight gain and amount of sleep in both children and adults. The past studies have shown that people that sleep less have a higher body mass index. Silva’s role on the project is to monitor data collection.

    Silva said the research they are about to do is different. In addition to sleep, the researchers are also looking at daily routines to see how weight gain is affected in the context of unemployment. This will be done for 18 months after unemployment.

    “We’re looking at stress, which comes from disruption from your daily life routine,” Silva said.

    Participants will first begin by taking baseline assessments such as starting weight, height, presence of comorbidities, diet questionnaires and psychological questionnaires. They will then go home with an active watch and pedometer to measure their activity, according to Silva.

    In addition to looking at all of these different variables in the study, there is another reason why the team believes this project is distinctive.

    “I think the grant is really unique because it brings in individuals from a number of different colleges and a number of different specialties,” Haynes said.

    The project includes collaborators from the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and even individuals of psychology at George Washington University.

    The team is partnering with the Arizona Department of Economic Security in order to recruit subjects from their application packets. They will not be recruiting from the general population but from individuals who have already applied for unemployment insurance, according to Haynes.

    “These are the individuals who might no longer have health care and the ones who are going to be financially strapped, so it is an exciting opportunity to learn more about their health and what happens,” Haynes said.

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