Shift workers are more likely to skip meals, suffer from lack of sleep and be smokers according to a new survey by safefood.
67% of people who work shifts have reported skipping meals on work days and 78% reported getting insufficent sleep.
One in three shift workers are also smokers, which is a higher rate than that of the general population.
The study also found that lack of breaks; shift patterns; poor availability of food; inadequate canteen opening times; and tiredness due to long working hours were the most common barriers reported by shift workers to leading a healthier lifestyle.
Research lead Dr Clare Corish, Associate Professor at the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin said “For this research we looked at existing studies in this area as well as surveying² more than 1,000 people to better understand the factors that influence their food and related lifestyle habits while working shift hours”.
Gender and age were also identified by the report as being influencing factors – men reported poorer dietary habits than women and were more likely to report being overweight. Younger shift workers reported poorer dietary habits and higher alcohol consumption rates than older workers. Older workers reported poorer sleep patterns and lower levels of physical activity.
Welcoming the report, Ray Dolan, CEO safefood said “It has been long assumed that shift work has a negative impact on people’s health and increases the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. With the publication of this research, we’re beginning to address an important gap in our knowledge of both the barriers and potential public health interventions to improving the food and related lifestyle habits of people working shifts.”