Overweight and obesity in shift workers: associated dietary and lifestyle factors

Victoria M O'Brien, Fiona M Nea, L. Kirsty Pourshahidi, Barbara Livingstone, Laura Bardon, Ciara Kelly, John M Kearney, Clare A. Corish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Approximately 17% of the European Union workforce is engaged in shift work. Shift work has been associated with a number of chronic conditions, including obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases. The aim of this study was to explore the dietary and lifestyle behaviours of shift workers with a healthy vs. overweight/obese body mass index (BMI). 

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted on 1080 shift workers using a 15-min, telephone-administered questionnaire developed from qualitative research on Irish shift workers and national dietary intake data. Demographic and work-related factors, as well as dietary and lifestyle behaviours were recorded. BMI was calculated using self-reported height and weight. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression methods were used to analyze data according to BMI category. 

RESULTS: Over 40% of shift workers were classified as overweight or obese. Multivariate analysis indicated that being male [P < 0.001, aOR = 2.102, 95% CI (1.62-2.73)] and middle- or older-aged were independently associated with overweight and obesity [P < 0.001, aOR = 2.44 95% CI (1.84-3.24) and P < 0.001, aOR = 2.9 95% CI (1.94-4.35), respectively]. Having a medium-high consumption of fried foods was independently associated with overweight and obesity [aOR = 1.38, 95% CI (1.06-1.8)]. 

CONCLUSIONS: Similar to the general population, overweight and obesity were strongly associated with male sex and middle- or older-age. Male shift workers may benefit from targeted dietary and lifestyle advice specifically focused on limiting fried foods to help protect against overweight and obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-584
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date27 May 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The ’Managing Food on Shift Work’ study was supported by safe-food, the Food Safety Promotion Board, under Grant No. [10-2013].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Shift work
  • Overweight/Obesity
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle


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