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Scand J Work Environ Health. 1994 Dec;20(6):401-6.

Nocturnal eating and serum cholesterol of three-shift workers.

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Department of Nutrition, University of Uppsala, Sweden.



The goal of this study was to examine the effect of rotating three-shift work on the circadian distribution of dietary intake and to investigate the relationships between displaced eating and nutritional status variables [blood lipids, blood glucose, body mass index (BMI)].


Dietary data were collected by 147 replicate 24-h dietary recalls from 22 male industrial workers in rotating three-shift work. The intakes of energy and nutrients were estimated by the use of a nutrient data base. The BMI was calculated, and blood glucose, serum triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were measured once.


The dietary intakes of energy, protein, total fat, saturated fat, total carbohydrates, sucrose, and dietary fiber did not differ between 24-h periods but did differ between work shifts and were lowest during the night. Correlation analyses between dietary intakes and nutritional status parameters showed that those who redistributed their eating most to the night shift had higher levels of serum total cholesterol and LDL and a higher LDL:HDL ratio; 63% of the LDL cholesterol level was explained by carbohydrate intake during night shifts. In contrast, the total intake for whole 24-h periods or across entire shift cycles was not related to serum variables or BMI.


Dietary intake is lower during night shifts (34-37% of 24-h intake of various nutrients) than during morning shifts (43-47%) and afternoon shifts (47-59%). The redistribution of food intake to the night may be associated with metabolic disturbances in lipid metabolism.

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