Does modifying the timing of meal intake improve cardiovascular risk factors? Protocol of an Australian pilot intervention in night shift workers with abdominal obesity

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Introduction Shift work is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Shift workers who are awake overnight and sleep during the day are misaligned with their body's endogenous circadian rhythm. Eating at night contributes to this increased risk of CVD by forcing the body to actively break down and process nutrients at night. This pilot study aims to determine whether altering meal timing overnight, in a shift working population, will impact favourably on modifiable risk factors for CVD (postprandial bplasma lipids and glucose concentration). Methods and analysis A randomised cross-over study with two 4-week test periods, separated by a minimum of a 2-week washout will be undertaken. The effectiveness of redistributing energy intake overnight versus ad libitum eating patterns on CVD risk factors will be examined in night shift workers (n=20), using a standard acute test meal challenge protocol. Primary outcomes (postprandial lipids and glucose) will be compared between the two conditions: post-intervention and post-control period using analysis of variance. Potential effect size estimates to inform sample size calculations for a main trial will also be generated. Ethics and dissemination Ethics approval has been granted by the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (2017-8619-10329). Outcomes from this study will determine whether eliminating food intake for a defined period at night (1-6 am) impacts favourably on metabolic risk factors for CVD in night shift workers. Collective results from this novel trial will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals, and national and international presentations. The results are essential to inform health promotion policies and guidelines for shift workers, especially those who aim to improve their metabolic health. Trial registration number ACTRN12617000791336; Pre-results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere020396
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • cardiovascular disease
  • glycaemia
  • lipids
  • postprandial
  • shift work

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