Long Shifts and Obesity in Nurses

Nurses who work long hours and have less physically demanding jobs are much more likely to be obese than other nurses, according to a new study. Long work hours and shift work negatively impact both quantity and quality of sleep, which often interferes with adherence to healthy behaviors and increases obesity. In the study, researchers from the University Of Maryland School Of Nursing interviewed 2,103 female nurses and found that about 55 percent of them were overweight or obese. The overweight and obese nurses reported that their jobs had less physical exertion and more limited movement than the thinner nurses. Additionally, working long hours was significantly linked with carrying excess weight.

Creating a work climate that allows for napping in the workplace can help to prevent work-related sleep deprivation, reduce fatigue, and replenish energy. Considering that more than half of nurses surveyed were overweight or obese, offering better food options may be in order. Organizational support for offering healthier food choices and meal breaks to eat a proper meal instead of calorie-dense snacks, can help to decrease obesity risks. Also, making healthy choices available in vending machines can increase food quality and access for night-shift nurses.

This study is the first to examine working conditions and obesity in nurses, as well as the first to show an association between nurses’ long work hours and obesity. Rotating shifts and long hours have been shown to interfere with circadian rhythms. Research has shown that disrupted day and night cycles and sleep patterns suppress melatonin, which affects metabolic processes such as physical activity, food efficiency and visceral fat. A study published last year supports some of the findings of this study. It found that irregular sleep patterns, like those of shift workers, disturb the natural rhythm of fat metabolism, thus increasing the risk of developing obesity and diabetes. You can read more about the study here.

Comments are closed.