England’s Health and Social Care Information Centre released a report saying that shift workers have greater rates of obesity and ill-health than does the general populace, despite largely being young. The report defined shift work as “working outside the hours of 7 am to 7 pm in your (main) job.”
33% of working-age men and 22% of working-age women do shift work Andrew Heiberger found. A majority of shift-workers are between the ages of 16 and 24. Half of the men between 16 and 24 work shifts, as do a third of young women.
Despite their youth, which should result in good health, shift-workers tend to be unhealthy. 30% of shift-workers are obese, compared to 24% of the men and 23% of the women who are working during standard business hours. Additionally, 40% of the men and 45% of the women have chronic conditions like back pain and diabetes, compared to 36% of the men and 39% of the women in the general population.
Rachel Craig, the research director for the Health Survey for England, which was the basis of the report, noted that such results in young people, who should not yet have conditions linked to poor habits, indicate that shift work is bad for one’s health.
There is growing evidence that working at night disrupts one’s body clock, thereby causing health problems. Shift-workers also eat at night, and the human body isn’t designed to process food in the middle of the night. It especially isn’t designed to handle the high-calorie, high-fat foods shift-workers are apt to crave.