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 journalArticle


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 - 30 Jun 2020


  • Shift work
  • Overweight/Obesity
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle

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  • Research Output

    A qualitative exploration of the shift work experience: the perceived effect on eating habits, lifestyle behaviours and psychosocial wellbeing

    Nea, F. M., Pourshahidi, L. K., Kearney, J. M., Livingstone, M. B. E., Bassul, C. & Corish, C. A., 13 Mar 2018, In : Journal of Public Health. online, p. 1-11

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 164 Downloads (Pure)
    Open Access
  • 6 Citations (Scopus)
    47 Downloads (Pure)

    Dietary and lifestyle habits and the associated health risks in shift workers.

    Nea, F. M., Kearney, J., Livingstone, B., Pourshahidi, K. & Corish, C. A., Dec 2015, In : Nutrition Research Reviews. 28, 2, p. 143-166

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 54 Citations (Scopus)

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