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Lawyers have unhealthy concerns about weight

Wednesday, 03 October 2018

Tags: Engagement; Research

An obsession with their body weight and shape could be contributing to the elevated stress levels of lawyers and law students, according to new research.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) and The University of Western Australia (UWA) conducted a survey of 428 law students and 148 lawyers across Australia to investigate the correlation between self-reported levels of psychological and physical distress and their concerns about eating, weight and shape, and exercise.

They found that despite lawyers and law students having similar Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) to the general Australian population, both groups were far more concerned than the typical person about their weight and shape.

Many were inclined to adopt unhealthy eating behaviours such as snacking instead of eating properly, or skipping meals altogether.

Dr Shane Rogers from ECU’s School of Arts and Humanities said the law profession was widely recognised to be a high-pressure occupation and it was important for lawyers and law students to take better care of themselves, both mentally and physically.

“Our results suggest that it may be worthwhile for many people in the profession to reflect on the way that they think about their eating and their weight and shape,” Dr Rogers said.

“While we recognise that impression management is important for lawyers, it’s about being wary of becoming obsessive,” he said.

Professor Natalie Skead from UWA Law School said law firms and law schools must implement strategies that support their staff and students in making healthy lifestyle choices.

“This might include providing healthy food options and enough time during the day to for meals,” Professor Skead said.

“It is also important for law students and lawyers to make time in the busy schedules to exercise regularly,” she said.

‘Looking beyond the mirror: Psychological distress; disordered eating, weight and shape concerns; and maladaptive eating habits in lawyers and law students’ was recently published in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry.


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