A new study has warned of the potential health risks working night shift poses to employees.
According to an editorial appearing in PLoS Medicine – an open-access medicine journal – poor diet and easy access to junk food is becoming an increasing part of the routine of those working during less-conventional hours.
Of particular concern is the increased risk of type-2 diabetes in females, highlighted by the study's ongoing evaluation of nurses in the US.
The authors of the paper believe that disruptions of the circadian rhythms – which regulate metabolic and cardiovascular systems – are impacting on both the quality and quantity of sleep, all crucial elements to maintaining a healthy weight.
Research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that there were 1.4 million employees – or 16 per cent of the workforce – engaged in shift work across the country in 2009.
Industries with a high proportion of shift workers included mining, accommodation and food services, transport and health care.
Those employing shift workers may look to highlight the importance of the health and wellbeing by offering a corporate health insurance policy.
Employers may wish to speak to a broker to help find a policy that meets the needs of all those involved.