Obesity and type II diabetes which have reached epidemic proportions worldwide are the risks associated with the working patterns of shift workers and their poor diet. Hence, it should be considered as an occupational health hazard as per the editors of the journal ‘PLoS Medicine’. In work places that employ shift workers, junk food is readily available in contrast to healthy food and as such an occupational hazard is born. Dr Virginia Barbour, the chief editor of the journal and her associates did a deep research in this regard.
The strength of shift workers is between 15% to 20% in Europe andUnited Statesand a similar trend is being observed in other developed and developing countries. With the world heading forward the 24/7 pattern, if this sector continues to expand at this pace then it will take a grim position. The editors of PLoS claimed, “If the data from studies are to be taken at face value, then this pattern of work has the potential to accelerate the progression of the global epidemic of obesity and diabetes.”
Powerful links were established between the risks associated with type II diabetes and rotating night shifts by researches done and published earlier this year. From the long running US Nurses Health Study (NHS), 18-20 years of follow up data was examined by the researchers. There exists sufficient evidence that to prevent diabetes in rotating night shift workers proper screening and intervention are required. According to the editors, since it has the potential to be changed easily than other factors like the metabolic outcomes of a deranged circadian rhythm, diet becomes an obvious target for intervention.
Employers are advocated to encourage their staff to have a healthy diet however there dedication towards this is still doubtful. The approach towards reducing exposure to tobacco smoke remains prescriptive. Improvements in the health of the workers were observed when the workers took the initiative themselves and were offered Cleveland Clinic where incentives for smoking cessation and healthy eating along with a good amount of exercise exist. In the words of the editors of the PLoS journal, when laws that regulate employees’ safety were introduced earlier, occupational injuries and deaths declined and now again concrete measures have to be taken by the government to improve the consuming habits of the people and to ensure the cheap as well as easy availability of healthy food.