Working Night Shifts May Widen Your Waistline

Disturbing normal sleep patterns is the main culprit, nutritionists say

Workers who regularly pull overnight shifts may be more prone to pack on the pounds, a new analysis suggests.
The finding involved an in-depth look at 28 studies conducted between 1999 and 2016.
All the investigations explored the health impact of shift work, in which employees are regularly asked to either alternate between daytime and overnight schedules or to exclusively work overnight hours.
An estimated 700 million men and women around the world now follow that work pattern, representing about 20 percent of the global workforce, the researchers said.
And while the numbers varied by study, the new analysis determined that, on average, routinely working a night shift seems to boost the risk for becoming obese or overweight by 29 percent.
Although the review could not prove cause-and-effect, nutrition experts expressed little surprise at the finding.
Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, suggested that sleep disruption is without question the main culprit.
“As studies have demonstrated, and this study supports, the human body is programmed to sleep when it is dark, allowing hormones that impact hunger and satiety to reset for the next day,” she explained.
“When people are awake when they should be sleeping, the hormones related to hunger and satiety appear to be thrown off, resulting in changes in eating, changes in metabolism and a tendency to eat more than we need,” Diekman said.
That point was seconded by Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition at Penn State University.
“Sleep deprivation is a major stressor that should be avoided as much as possible,” she said, noting that by working night shifts, people are inevitably working against their natural biological clocks.
Neither Diekman nor Kris-Etherton were part of the current review team, which was led by M. Sun of the JC School of Public Health and Primary Care at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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