Shift Work Tied to Unhealthy Lifestyles
People who work changing or overnight shifts tend to eat more fat, few vegetables and get little exercise compared to their peers who work steady day shifts. That's the conclusion of a recent study of airline employees in Finland.
Researchers at the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Helsinki analyzed 1,478 airline employees from an airline screening and prevention program for chronic diseases. Health checkups were conducted at the beginning of the study and again two and half years later. These checkups included diabetes risk screening, lab tests, physical measurements and a questionnaire on lifestyle, work and sleeping habits. Those at risk for diabetes also completed a 16-item questionnaire on how many and what types of meals they ate daily and were offered lifestyle counseling.
The male employees who worked shifts during the study period, mainly doing aircraft or customer service, were less likely to eat at least one portion of vegetables per day than either day or in-flight shift workers. Meanwhile, women shift workers got 12.6 percent of their daily calories from saturated fat, compared to day workers’ 12.2 percent. Female shift workers also used more high-fat milk products than day workers.
Male shift workers consumed more calories from fat (33 percent) and saturated fat (12 percent) than the other two groups. Overall, shift workers also tended to gain more weight, the more they worked varying schedules. Night shift workers also slept less, which can lead to metabolic and cardiovascular problems, the study authors noted.
Experts said that one way to begin addressing the problem is to make sure that workplace vending machines offer healthier foods and also that refrigerators be provided so employees can bring healthier meals from home