Temporal pattern of eating in night shift workers

Emma Shaw, Jillian Dorrian, Alison M. Coates, Gloria K.W. Leung, Rochelle Davis, Erika Rosbotham, Rebekah Warnock, Catherine E. Huggins, Maxine P. Bonham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding shift workers dietary intake patterns may inform interventions targeted at lowering chronic disease risk. This study examined the temporal distribution of food intake as shift workers rotate between night shifts, day shift and/or days off to identify differences in energy intake, eating frequency, and adherence to dietary guidelines by shift type (night shift vs. day). Night shift (NS) workers completed a four-day food diary that included a minimum of two night shifts and one-day shift (DS)/day off (DO), recording all food, beverages and time of consumption. Comparisons were between shift types, using ANOVA for continuous data and generalized estimating equations for count data, data reported as mean (SE). When comparing NS and DSDO, there were no differences in energy intake (24 h) (8853 (702) vs. 9041 (605) kJ, n = 22) or adherence to dietary guidelines. There was no difference between the number of eating occasions on NS and DSDO (5.6(0.3) vs 5.1(0.6) occasions) but less energy per eating occasion at night (1661(125) vs 1933(159) kJ). When working NS compared with DSDO there was higher total sugar (%E, 19.1(2.0) vs 15.0(2.4)) and lower saturated fat (%E, 13.8(1.2) vs 15.7(1.3)). Further, DSDO were characterized by a pattern of three main meals and a prolonged fasting period. It is important to determine if reducing eating occasions and providing opportunities for fasting improves metabolic health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1613-1625
Number of pages13
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number12
Early online date9 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Heart Foundation of Australia, under grant 101381. We would like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of our participants. We would like to acknowledge Jenny Robinson and Sophie Page for their support with data collection and/or analysis.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Circadian
  • dietary intake
  • energy intake
  • macronutrient
  • shift work


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