The editors of a leading journal suggest that the poor diet of shift workers should be considered an occupational health hazard. They argue that working patterns should be treated as a specific risk factor for obesity and type 2 diabetes, which have reached epidemic proportions in the developed world, with the developing world not far behind.
With reference to studies published in earlier issues of the journal, that show links between increased risk in type 2 diabetes and shift work patterns in American nurses, Dr Virginia Barbour, chief editor of the journal PLoS Medicine and her fellow editors make a case in this month's edition for classing unhealthy eating as a new form of occupational hazard, especially in those workplaces that employ shift workers, whose easy access to junk food compared to healthier options just makes it harder to keep to a good diet.
Shift work is common in both the developed and the developing world. About 15 to 20% of workers in Europe and the US work shifts, many of them in the health care industry.
As the world moves more toward the 24/7 pattern of "open all hours", shift work will become even more common than this, and if the data from studies cited in their...
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