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Study ties shift work to unhealthy eating habits

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Melbourne, Australia — Rotating shift workers are more likely than other workers to eat unhealthy foods, a new study has found.

Researchers at Monash University analyzed the eating habits of workers who rotate between day and night shifts. Lead study author Angela Clark, a doctoral candidate and research dietitian at Monash, said in a press release that the shift workers’ diets typically contained less protein and carbohydrates, along with more fat.

“The foods and drinks typically consumed by rotating workers were more fried and fatty foods, confectionary, sweetened drinks, and alcohol, with fewer core foods such as dairy, meat, fruit and vegetables. There was also a pattern of more meals per day and frequent snacking at night.”

Tania Whalen, who has performed shift work sporadically for 20 years, added that the fatigue of shift work makes it “too easy to grab junk food.” She said the overall structure of the work – when completed in 12-hour shifts – presents challenges for keeping food fresh at work. 

The study was published online in the journal Advances in Nutrition.

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