Poor Diet in Shift Workers Leads to Obesity, Diabetes

A recent editorial published in the Public Library of Science Medicine suggests that the poor diet of shift workers could be considered an occupational hazard because it potentially increases the risks for obesity and diabetes.

According to the article, which was written by the editorial staff of the journal, about 15-20% of the working population in the US and Europe engages in shift work. Shift work negatively affects workers’ sleeping habits, diets and exercise routines, which all contribute to potentially unhealthy lifestyle.

A recent paper published earlier in the same journal describes a long-term study exploring the effect of shift work on occupational health. The researchers provided evidence connecting shift work and the risk for type 2 diabetes in women, specifically nurses. The disruption of circadian rhythms that regulate metabolic and cardiovascular systems, poor diet and exercise habits and the effect on both the quality and quantity of sleep were all speculated to play a role in the connection between shift work and type 2 diabetes.

Although some effects of shift work, such as disrupted circadian rhythms, are unavoidable, the authors suggest that targeting and improving eating habits can possibly reduce the risks for obesity and diabetes for shift workers.

For more information:

  • The PLoS Medicine Editors 2011. Poor Diet in Shift Workers: A New Occupational Health Hazard? PLoS Med 8(12): e1001152. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001152.

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