Shift workers "More likely to develop health conditions" says study - Mitrefinch

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Shift workers “More likely to develop health conditions” says study

Published: February 24, 2016

Those who work night shifts have a higher risk of developing mental and physical health risks, new research has revealed.

A recent report showed there was a link between these working patterns and conditions such as obesity, diabetes and back pain.

Figures published by the recent Health Survey for England survey conducted by the Health and Social Care Information Centre revealed that 30 per cent of shift workers were obese, compared with 24 per cent of men and 23 per cent of women working normal hours. Data also showed 33 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women of working age were doing shift work.

There is also a high incidence of ill health among shift workers, with the report showing that 40 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women on shifts had long-term health conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and back pain. Those aged 14-24 were the most likely to take on shift work, with less than a third of men and a fifth of women were working shifts after the age of 55. Employees working shifts were also more likely to smoke and be stressed.

A separate study conducted by US scientists, published within the Diabetes News Journal, revealed that there was a link between night shift work and type 2 diabetes among African-American women.

This has been partly attributed to changes in sleep-wake cycle, which result in the disruption of circadian rhythms and has a further negative impact on health.

Even once other factors such as body-mass index (BMI) and lifestyle, it was found that those that had worked night shifts before 2005 had a 12 per cent higher risk of developing diabetes in comparison to those who had never worked night shifts.

However, to some extent, enabling staff members to work from home may help to reduce the problems associated with late night shifts.

This can be facilitated by time and attendance software which makes it easier for employers to track and monitor staff remotely.

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