Unhealthy eating: a new form of occupational hazard?

December 27, 2011

The poor diet of shift workers should be considered a new occupational health hazard, according to an editorial published in this month's PLoS Medicine. The editorial draws on previous work published in the journal, which showed an association between an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and rotating patterns of shift work in US nurses.

Shift work is now a very common pattern of work in both the developed and developing world, with around 15-20% of the working population in Europe and the US engaged in shift work. It is particularly prevalent in the health care industry. is notoriously associated with poor patterns of eating, which is exacerbated by easier access to junk food compared with more healthy options.

The editors argue that working patterns should now be considered a specific risk factor for obesity and type 2 diabetes, which are currently at in the developed world and likely to become so soon in the less-developed world. They go on to suggest that firm action is needed to address this epidemic, i.e. that "governments need to legislate to improve the habits of consumers and take specific steps to ensure that it is easier and cheaper to eat healthily than not". More specifically, they suggest that unhealthy eating could legitimately be considered a new form of occupational hazard and that workplaces, specifically those who employ shift workers, should lead the way in eliminating this hazard.

Explore further: Rotating night shift work linked to increased risk of Type 2 diabetes in women

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

Related Stories

Rotating night shift work linked to increased risk of Type 2 diabetes in women

December 6, 2011
Women who work a rotating (irregular) schedule that includes three or more night shifts per month, in addition to day and evening working hours in that month, may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes when ...

Modern shift work pattern potentially less harmful to health

September 27, 2011
Recent research suggests that the modern day-day-night-night shift pattern for shift workers may not be as disruptive or as potentially carcinogenic as older, more extreme shift patterns.

Stress hormones may increase cardiovascular risks for shift workers

October 3, 2011
A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that shift work at a young age is associated with elevated long-term cortisol levels and increased ...

Shift work in teens linked to increased multiple sclerosis risk

October 18, 2011
Researchers from Sweden have uncovered an association between shift work and increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). Those who engage in off-hour employment before the age of 20 may be at risk for MS due to a disruption ...

Recommended for you

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

irjsiq
not rated yet Dec 28, 2011
A recent 'discovery' indicates that the body's immune system attacks cells of the Pancreas, specific to Insulin Production, and begins 'killing them off', until not enough remain for ?normal? 'Blood Sugar' balancing; and, that the 'killing' process covers several to many years, resulting in later-life Diabetes onset!

Roy J Stewart,
Phoenix AZ
spiritosl
not rated yet Dec 28, 2011
Shift work increases the cortisol level and thus blood glucose level and as a result also insulin level. Shift workers are per definition prediabetic already.
Then recommend shift workers to have as few carbohydrates as possible to save the pancreatic beta cells. Energy in the form of acetylcoenzym A (AcCoA) comes much easier and better from saturated fatty acids than from toxic carbohydrates.
Don't forget that more than 7 mmol/L (126 mg/dL) glucose is toxic and glucose binds nonenzymatically to proteins, e.g. HbA1c. The glucose coupled to hemoglobin (a.k.a. A1c or HbA1c) makes the hemoglobin molecule unable to carry the oxygen molecule.
Don't forget that 7 mmol/L in a 70 kg (154 lb) person equals 7 grams (0.25 oz) of glucose in the total blood volume.

Then the authorities recommend the population to eat 480 g (1,05 lb) glucose per day. That is ten times a lethal dose of glucose as a level of more than 30-50 mmol/L (30-50 g in the blood, 5.6 L) glucose in the blood is lethal
nanotech_republika_pl
not rated yet Dec 28, 2011
@spiritosl In your calculations, you implying that all 480g of glucose per day is transported from the gut into bloodstream? Wouldn't your body take only whatever is the physiologically possible and the rest of it poop out? Also, even if the gut takes 480g per day, wouldn't kidneys get rid off already some blood sugar immediately to make room for new sugar coming into blood?
spiritosl
not rated yet Dec 28, 2011
We're all surviving thanks to the insulin system.
When blood glucose increases the insulin is called out as our emergency system. The insulin makes a lot of things to normalize the blood glucose level.
1. Slow down the intestinal speed, slower uptake of glucose.
2. Quench all fats producing AcCoA (an alternate source of energy, now just AcCoA from glucose is allowed)
3. Increase body temperature to increase burning of AcCoA in mitochondia.
4. Excess of AcCoA is produced, is polymerized to saturated fats in the liver.
5. Insulin knocks on all cells' insulin receptor and asks for another gucose molecule to store intracellularly. One problem, every glucose molecule is surrounded by 190 water molecules why the cells withdraw the GLUT4 receptor to avoid water overfilling. We call that insulin resistance and punish the cell by injecting more insulin to force feed cells with more glucose and water.
6. Excess glucose (more than 11 mmol/L) is excreted in the kidneys, need to drink much more.
spiritosl
not rated yet Dec 28, 2011
7. Emergency procedure: Anaerobic metabolism of glucose to two molecules of lactic acid and generate just 2 molecules of ATP. Aerobic pathway generates 38 molecules of ATP per molecule of glucose. So the anaerobic pathway uses 19 times more glucose than the aerobic pathway. But there is a hitch. Lactic acid. It's called lactacidosis and need immediate treatment with more insulin to be survivable.

Nanotech R We're not pooping out any glucose. Usually in raw vegetables we can not destroy the cellulose cell wall but mechanically so some carbs are leaving inside vegetable cells, But freeze or boil the veggies and you destroy the cellulosa walls and the starch will pour out and raise your blood glucose level.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.