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Managing food on shift work

Managing food on shift work

An exploration of the eating patterns, related lifestyle behaviours and experiences of shift workers on the island of Ireland.

ISBN: 978-1-905767-66-3

shift work report cover



An estimated 15% of the workforce in Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is employed in shift work. Shift work entails working hours outside the standard working week, and may involve evening, weekend and rotating shift patterns.
It is well known that lifestyle behaviours such as diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking are associated with increased risk of chronic non-communicable (non-infectious) disease.

Due to the disruptive nature of shift work and subsequent erratic routine, lifestyle behaviours may be negatively influenced by shift work, which may account for a potentially increased health risk. Little is known about the lifestyle behaviours and experiences of shift workers on the island of Ireland. There are no published data on the barriers or facilitators to improving lifestyle behaviours in this group.

Aims and objectives

This research set out to establish the dietary and related lifestyle behaviours of shift workers from the three largest employment sectors that require shift work on the island of Ireland. These are accommodation and food services, health and social care, and manufacturing. The specific objectives were to:

  • examine the eating habits of shift workers and assess the impact of shift work and different shift work patterns on diet and related lifestyle behaviours
  • explore the physical activity patterns of shift workers and determine whether shift work affects participation in physical activity
  • investigate the barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and physical activity within the shift work environment, specifically the availability of workplace facilities
  • develop recommendations to empower shift workers to lead healthier lifestyles, and to effectively target communication strategies for this population group.

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