Effect of shift work on body mass index: results of a study performed in 319 glucose-tolerant men working in a Southern Italian industry

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Nov;27(11):1353-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802419.


Objective: To examine the influence of shift work on metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors in subjects working in an industry sited in Apulia, Southern Italy.

Design: Cross-sectional study of metabolic effects of shift work in glucose tolerant workers in a chemical industry in southern Italy.

Subjects: The subjects included 319 glucose tolerant male individuals, aged 35-60 y.

Measurements: Anthropometric parameters (body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR)), fasting concentrations of glucose, insulin, and lipids (total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides), the sum of glucose levels during 75 g-oral glucose tolerance test (Sigma-OGTT), and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP, respectively).

Results: The prevalence of obesity was higher among shift workers compared to day workers, whereas body fat distribution was not different between the two groups. Shift workers had higher BMI than day workers, and shift working was associated with BMI, independently of age and work duration. Shift workers had significantly higher SBP levels, which were independently influenced by BMI, but not by shift work, thus suggesting that the difference in SBP may well be mediated by the increased body fatness.

Conclusion: In workers of an industry sited in Southern Italy, shift work may be directly responsible for increased body fatness and is indirectly associated with higher blood pressure levels and some features of metabolic syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / blood
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling
  • Risk Factors
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Lipids