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Chronobiol Int. 2017;34(3):337-348. doi: 10.1080/07420528.2016.1259242. Epub 2017 Jan 20.

The impact of meal timing on cardiometabolic syndrome indicators in shift workers.

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a Department of Psychology , University of Alabama , Tuscaloosa , AL , USA.
b Cancer Prevention and Control Program, and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics , University of South Carolina , Columbia , SC , USA.
c Connecting Health Innovations , LLC , Columbia , SC , USA.
d WJB Dorn Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center , Columbia , SC , USA.
e Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology , University of Alabama at Birmingham , Birmingham , AL , USA.


The aims of this study were to 1) compare the inflammatory potential of night- and day-shift nurses' diets with regard to time of day and work status and 2) explore how the timing of food intake during work and off-work is associated with cardiometabolic syndrome (CMS) risk factors between these two groups. Female nurses (N = 17; 8 day-shift and 9 night-shift) reported food intake over 9 days. On a middle day off of work, metabolic parameters were measured after an overnight fast. Energy/macronutrient intake and inflammatory potential of dietary intake (as assessed via the Dietary Inflammatory IndexTM) were calculated for nurses' workdays, work nights, off-work days, and off-work nights. Work-night total food intake (grams) accounted for a significant amount of variance in CMS risk factors for night-shift nurses only. Increased total gram consumption during night-shift nurses' work nights was associated with increased lipid levels - independent of the macronutrient composition of the food consumed. Alternatively, for night-shift nurses, work-day intake of several food parameters accounted for a significant proportion of variance in HDL cholesterol levels, with higher intake associated with higher HDL levels. For both day- and night-shift nurses, food intake during the day was more pro-inflammatory regardless of shift type or work status. Our novel approach of combining time-of-day-specific and work-day-specific analyses of dietary inflammatory factors and macronutrient composition with measurement of CMS risk factors suggests a link between meal timing and cardiometabolic health for shift-working nurses.


Circadian misalignment; dietary inflammatory index; dietary patterns

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