Objectives Over 20% of employees in Europe work in shifts. Shift work increases the risk for chronic diseases, but a healthy lifestyle may attenuate the adverse effect of shift work. The aim of this study was to explore food and nutrient intake differences between working time groups.
Methods The participants were 1478 employees (55% of men) of an airline divided into three working time groups: day work (n=608), shift work without in-flight work (n=541) and in-flight work (n=329). Measures included laboratory tests, physical measurements, a questionnaire, and food and nutrient intake estimations by a validated 16-item food intake questionnaire.
Results Shift working men were less likely to consume vegetables (p<0.001) and fruits (p=0.049) daily than male day and in-flight workers. In women, energy intake from saturated fat was higher among shift workers compared with day workers (12.6 vs 12.2 E%, p=0.023). In older female participants, energy intake from fat and saturated fat was higher in the shift work and in-flight work groups than in the day work group (p<0.001).
Conclusions In this study, shift work and working environment were associated with dietary habits, and this association was not explained by other characteristics such as workers’ educational level. Shift workers’ increased risk for chronic diseases should be taken into account and lifestyle counselling including advice in nutrition should be incorporated in routine occupational healthcare of shift workers.
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