Evening workplace wellness

Obesity and Night Employees: Work Patterns Can Influence Workplace Wellness Program Design

As business leaders consider the program design of their workplace wellness programs, one type of employee may need special consideration: Night workers.

Because of the late hours, these employees may not have the same program structure built into their shifts. Further, food options may be more limited at these hours, creating more opportunity for less-than-optimal nutrition choices.

Now a new report outlines another challenge: “Working Nights May Pose Special Risk for Abdominal Obesity,” states MedPage Today.

The piece continues: “In a meta-analysis, there was a higher frequency of abdominal obesity reported among workers who were scheduled on night shifts versus other types of obesity, according to lead author Miaomiao Sun, PhD, of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues.”

“Overall overweight or obesity risk was also tied to night shift work, and was especially notable among permanent night shift workers versus rotating night shift workers, they wrote in Obesity Reviews.”

The piece continues: “Sun’s group highlighted the importance of exploring these relationships, noting that “a better understanding of the knowledge gaps regarding the associations between specific obesity types and different types of shift work has important implications for guiding occupational health practice and disease prevention.”

Various inputs may drive the results. The piece offers reasons for the outcomes.

It states: “Possible mechanisms underlying these associations may include the suppression of melatonin due to circadian rhythm disruption because of nightly light exposure.”

The bottom line: Designing an effective workplace wellness program is not a one-size-fits-all process. Understanding distinct cultural realities within various workplaces — as well as the type and time of work performed — are all factors to consider in program design.