Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health Online-first -article    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3829

Shift work and its relation with meal and snack patterns among healthcare workers

by Hulsegge G, Loef B, Benda T, van der Beek AJ, Proper KI

Objective Unfavorable eating patterns might contribute to the adverse health effects of shift work. Our objective was to examine differences in meal and snack frequency, as well as the quality of snacks, between shift and day workers and between different types of shifts.

Methods Cross-sectional data from 485 healthcare workers aged 18–65 years of the Klokwerk+ cohort study was used. Dietary intake was assessed using 3-day food diaries, and meals and snacks were classified by the food-based classification of eating episodes method. Using multivariable-adjusted regression analyses, we estimated differences in meal and snack frequency and the quality of snacks between shift and day workers. Within the shift working group, eating frequency on day, evening, and night shifts were compared to work-free days.

Results Meal and snack frequency as well as the quality of snacks showed no significant differences between shift and day workers (P≥0.05). Shift workers had a higher frequency of high-quality snacks [β 0.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.12–0.46] and a lower frequency of low-quality snacks (β -0.29, 95% CI -0.49– -0.09) on evening shifts compared to their work-free days. Compared to work-free days, shift workers had a higher frequency of high-quality snacks on days shifts (β 0.24, 95% CI 0.10–0.38), and only those aged ≤40 years had a higher frequency of snacks on night shifts (β 0.53, 95% CI 0.06–1.00) (interaction by age P<0.05).

Conclusion This study observed no differences between day and shift workers either in meal and snack frequency or in the quality of snacks. However, snacking patterns differed across shifts. Future research should investigate whether these snacking patterns contribute to the adverse health effects of shift work.