Background: The large increase in epidemiological studies on night shift work
is due to the important effects of night shift work on workers’ health and psychophysical
wellbeing. The short-term effects—insomnia, difficulties in managing work and private
life, lower work performance, and more work and extra-work accidents—are easily studied.
However, there are several long-term effects that are difficult to study because of the
need for detailed exposure assessment and the long latency periods of these diseases.
Objective: The aim was to collect epidemiologic evidence of diseases in night shift workers,
describing their biological pathways and a set of dietary guidelines.
Methods: This is a review on diet and health effects in night shift workers.
Results: Significant increases in the rate ratios and hazard ratios of different diseases
were associated with modified eating behaviours and poor eating habits among night shift
workers. Night shift work is a risk factor for disruption of the circadian rhythms and for
some genetic deregulation because it produces the inversion of the sleep/wake cycle and
modifies the alternation between activity and rest.
Conclusion: A healthy diet and improved dietary practices, together with other factors,
can reduce shift workers’ chronic disease risk. The literature showed the importance of
eating behaviour in order to prevent diseases in these workers; therefore, educational
programmes are necessary to encourage several important lifestyle changes. The target of
our future research will be the role of food components in some dietetic habits for the
prevention of disease in night shift workers.