Monash University-led research has found that workers on rotating shifts eat worse and eat more compared to regular daytime workers. Rotating shift workers eat more calories, snack on more junk food, and don’t eat as many nutritious foods, which of course can put them at higher risk of acquiring diet related health issues. 

Published in Advances in Nutrition, research found that rotating shift workers, whose shifts changed week-to-week, consumed an extra 264 kilojoules (63 calories) in 24 hours on average, compared to day workers.

These poor eating habits, including irregular meals, snacking or eating at night more, less consumption of macronutrients such as protein, and increased consumption of discretionary foods, can lead to weight gain and impaired glucose metabolism. 1.4 million employees in Australia, work shifts as their main occupation.

Shift work has become increasingly common in our modern societies due to the 24 hour economy, globalisation, and advances in technology. The negative impact of shift work on health is well known, and this recent study shines more light on this issue. Shift work disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, which can lead to many chronic health issues, including weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease. 

The findings of this study have important implications for employers, policymakers, and public health professionals. Employers are advised to provide healthy meal options and adequate break times to support healthier food choices for employees. Many business would benefit from providing access to nutritional advice for their employees (coaching, webinars, seminars etc).  This would help to improve the physical and mental health of shift workers, reduce the burden of health care costs, and most likely enhance workplace productivity.

April 2023, I chatted to Pat Panetta on Nightshift with Luke Bona on Triple M about Shift Workers and challenges of healthy eating, listen below:


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