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Shift work

Shift workers’ diet could contribute to poor health

February 19, 2014

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Columbia, SC – Shift workers are more likely to have a diet promoting chronic inflammation, which could partly explain the association between shift work and a variety of diseases, a recent study from the University of South Carolina suggests.

Researchers surveyed workers about their diet, and then calculated their “dietary inflammatory index,” which is a measurement of how likely a person’s diet is to cause inflammation. A pro-inflammatory diet is identified as one high in fats, carbohydrates and sweets. When adjusted for other factors, researchers found that shift workers had an elevated dietary inflammatory index compared to day workers, and the difference was significant for workers whose shifts varied.

Shift work has long been linked to an increased risk of several negative health effects, including high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Pro-inflammatory diets may partially explain increased inflammation-related disease risk seen in other studies of shift workers.

Researchers suggested that behavioral interventions targeted at pro-inflammatory diets could help reduce the adverse health impacts of shift work.

The study was published in the February issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.