More Commentaries on Work Schedule and Diabetes Link

by Mark Benson on December 28, 2011

Shifts cause health issues

As the world’s economies continue to harmonize, time schedules and differences become all the more blurred. In many instances, shift workers help in providing services for a whole host of businesses.

The downside of this kind of work though has its drawbacks and these include the increased risk of developing diabetes and obesity. This stems from unhealthy diets and eating habits that eventually develops into a full-grown health issue for the individual. From there, the enterprise becomes affected with the increased costs of health maintenance and even loss of productivity.

One of the major proponents to this causation effect is Dr. Virginia Barbour, chief editor of PLoS Medicine journal. She argued that unhealthy diets and eating habits must be considered as an occupational health hazard. She added, “We have long standing interest in publishing on the diseases and risk factors that cause the highest burden of disease.”

Barbour espouses, “We would suggest that employers need to take unhealthy eating very seriously, to the extent that they consider that unhealthy foods are essentially environmental hazards and that they should consider what the implications are of exposing their employees to high levels of such hazards in the form of vending machines and fast food restaurants.”

In her treatise, she cited studies published in the journal earlier this month that reviewed rotating night-shift work and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While at the time of the diagnosis, many are overweight or obese and they register abnormally high blood sugar levels in the body. These are clear indications of the onset of diabetes.

The study published on PLoS showed that more than eleven percent of the study participants did shift work for more than ten years and working at extended periods of rotating night shift work showed significant increases in risks for Type 2 diabetes in women. These individuals would more likely to eat less nutritious food compared to those who work normal business hours. Furthermore, they also get less sleep and do less exercise because of the differences in sleep scheduling because of work shift assignments.

Barbour continues, “A substantial proportion of the work force will be working in shifts and advice from governments needs to reflect that and shift workers, in turn, need to ensure they understand that shift work is not just inconvenient and anti-social, but also a substantial risk factor for poor health outcomes. Hence, they need to consider their shift work as their normal hours and make a positive effort to ensure they incorporate a balanced diet and exercise into their lifestyle, despite the hours.”

Shift workers comprise between fifteen and twenty percent of the American and European worker population. Working on a shift is often associated with poor eating habits and is associated with the health care industry.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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