Why night shift workers get fat

Why night shift workers get fat
Highlights

There is plenty of evidence which indicates that long working hours may harm your health. Now, a new research has found that employes who work all night and sleep during the day burn fewer calories.

There is plenty of evidence which indicates that long working hours may harm your health. Now, a new research has found that employes who work all night and sleep during the day burn fewer calories.
The study was published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and it suggests that people who work the night shift are more likely to be obese than those who work during the day because they burn less energy during a 24-hour period.
Previous studies have established that people who work and eat at night when their bodies are biologically prepared to sleep are more likely to gain weight. In order to uncover the reason behind this, researchers analyzed 14 healthy adults over a six-day period.
For the first two days, participants followed a normal schedule where they slept at night and worked during the day. Thereafter, they switched to a three-day shift work schedule where their daily routine was reversed.
According to Kenneth Wright, Director of University of Colorado Boulder's Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory, "When people are on a shift work-type schedule, their daily energy expenditure is reduced and unless they were to reduce their food intake, this by itself could lead to weight gain." The reduction in energy expenditure has been linked to the imbalance created between a person's daily activities and his internal body clock.
Wright further states, "Shift work goes against our fundamental biology. It requires our biological day to occur at night and our biological night to occur during the day and that's very difficult to achieve because the sun is such a powerful cue. Our body can adapt to certain changes like for a couple of hours but then on days you are not working, it goes right back. This is why shift workers may never adapt."
The findings showed that the participants burned more fat when they slept during the day compared to when they slept at night. "What we can say is that it's perhaps even more important to have a healthy diet for shift workers coupled with physical activity," he added.
The team concluded that further research is definitely required to figure out how night-shifts and rotating shift schedules may affect a person's metabolism.
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