Diabetes prevention and management are important parts of well-run workplace wellness programs. Is it possible that night work might increase diabetes risk?
- 30 percent added healthcare spend each year for employees with diabetes vs. healthy employees
- Diabetes costs the U.S. $245 billion annually in lost productivity and healthcare expense
- Type 2 diabetes — the most common form of diabetes — is often caused by poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise, and is sometimes hereditary
Could the time of day one works add to the risk?
A new study published by the American Diabetes Association looks at the question. It’s titled “Night Shift Work, Genetic Risk, and Type 2 Diabetes in the UK Biobank.” It seeks “to examine the effects of past and current night shift work and genetic type 2 diabetes vulnerability on type 2 diabetes odds.”
According to MedPage Today: “Researchers analyzed approximately 270,000 patients who had some exposure to shift work, defined as any work schedule falling outside the conventional 9 a.m.-5 p.m. structure.”
The results from the study: “Compared with day workers, all current night shift workers were at higher multivariable-adjusted odds for type 2 diabetes, except current permanent night shift workers. Considering a person’s lifetime work schedule and compared with never shift workers, working more night shifts per month was associated with higher type 2 diabetes odds; and >8/month. The association between genetic type 2 diabetes predisposition and type 2 diabetes odds was not modified by shift work exposure.”
Lead study author Celine Vetter, DPhil, a psychologist at the University of Colorado Boulder told MedPage Today: “We found that all shift workers were more likely to have type 2 diabetes, except for permanent night shift workers. Those who reported working irregular or rotating shifts with usual night shifts were 44% more likely to have type 2 diabetes, after taking into account other established risk factors.”
As the study concludes: “Our findings show that night shift work, especially rotating shift work including night shifts, is associated with higher type 2 diabetes odds and that the number of night shifts worked per month appears most relevant for type 2 diabetes odds. Also, shift work exposure does not modify genetic risk for type 2 diabetes, a novel finding that warrants replication.”
The challenge for workplace wellness programs may be to focus even more on extending education, engagement, and opportunity even more for night shift workers.