night workplace wellness

Study Examines Night Shift Working, Diabetes and Risk

Diabetes prevention and management are important parts of well-run workplace wellness programs. Is it possible that night work might increase diabetes risk?

Interactive Health offers solutions that meet unique needs of various organizations. Indeed, this infographic outlines how to reshape the workforce to beat diabetes. Among the facts:

  • 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.