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A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Association Between Night-Only or Rotating Shift Work and Overweight/Obesity Among Female Nurses and Midwives

Zhao, Isabella RN, BN, BN (Hons I); Bogossian, Fiona RN, DipAppSci, BAppSci, MPH, PhD, MACMI; Turner, Catherine RN, BA, Grad Dip, Ed, MN, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 7 - p 834–840
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31824e1058
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the associations between shift work types and overweight/obesity among female nurses and midwives.

Methods: A cross-sectional study. Measurement included exposure variables: rotating shift work and night-only shift work; outcome variables: overweight and obesity; and potential confounding and associated variables: modifiable lifestyle factors, general health status, menopausal status, and work pattern.

Results: Among the 2086 participants, almost 60% were overweight/obese (31.7% overweight; 27.1% obese). After we adjusted the selected confounders, we found that rotating shift workers were 1.02 times more likely to be overweight/obese than day workers (P = 0.007; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.004 to 1.03; and P = 0.02; 95% CI: 1.004 to 1.04, respectively). Night-only shift work was found to be significantly associated with obesity only (P = 0.031; relative risk, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.002 to 1.04).

Conclusions: Rotating shift work was associated with both overweight and obesity; and night-only shift work was associated with obesity, not overweight.

From the School of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Address correspondence to: Isabella Zhao, RN, BN, BN (Hons I), School of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia (

This project is supported by grants from the Australian Research Council (LP0562102, SR0566924), Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (2005002108), and New Zealand Health Research Council (456163). Industry Partners providing additional funding include Queensland Health, the South Australian Department of Health, Injury Prevention and Control Australia (Pty Ltd), Nursing Council of New Zealand, and the Macquarie Bank Foundation. Corporate sponsors include Virgin Blue, Virgin Atlantic, and MessageNet.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine