Shiftwork has the potential for altering food intake patterns in ways that may be unfavorable to health. In two industrial plants in the Australian state of Victoria where food had to be brought from home or purchased on the job, the effect of shiftwork on food sources as well as the energy density of food items was assessed. In the steel plant, employees on the afternoon shift had relatively more principal eating occasions on the job than did day or night shift workers. The canteen did not cater adequately for the meal needs of employees, who used the vending machines to a greater extent when on the afternoon shift than on other shifts. In the aluminum plant, workers who depended on food from home alone ate relatively less energy-dense foods than did workers who included canteen foods in their diets. Use of lower-energy density items was greater on the day shift than on the afternoon shift, and in turn was greater on that shift than for the night shift. After a one-year nutrition education program, the use of lower-energy density items increased on the day and night shifts. Thus, it was found that food usage could be influenced not only by shiftwork, but also by the food facility available on site and by a nutrition education program.
©1985 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine