Obesity and shift work: chronobiological aspects

Nutr Res Rev. 2010 Jun;23(1):155-68. doi: 10.1017/S0954422410000016. Epub 2010 Feb 2.


The present review has the objective of summarising chronobiological aspects of shift work and obesity. There was a systematic search in PubMed databases, using the following descriptors: shift work; obesity; biological clock. Shift work is extremely frequent in several services and industries, in order to systematise the needs for flexibility of the workforce, necessary to optimise productivity and business competitiveness. In developing countries, this population represents a considerable contingent workforce. Recently, studies showed that overweight and obesity are more prevalent in shift workers than day workers. In addition, the literature shows that shift workers seem to gain weight more often than those workers submitted to a usual work day. In conclusion, there is considerable epidemiological evidence that shift work is associated with increased risk for obesity, diabetes and CVD, perhaps as a result of physiological maladaptation to chronically sleeping and eating at abnormal circadian times. The impact of shift work on metabolism supports a possible pathway to the development of obesity and its co-morbities. The present review demonstrated the adverse cardiometabolic implications of circadian misalignment, as occurs chronically with shift workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Chronobiology Phenomena / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Eating / physiology
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / epidemiology
  • Insulin / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin