Does rearranging meal times at night improve cardiovascular risk factors? An Australian pilot randomised trial in night shift workers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims: Shift workers face an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), type-2 diabetes and obesity. Eating during the night is a likely contributing factor, as it coincides with the time at which postprandial metabolism is least efficient. In this pilot randomised crossover trial, we examine the effects of a short overnight fast on CVD risk markers (primarily postprandial triglyceride and glucose response) of night shift workers. Methods and results: Night shift workers with abdominal obesity underwent 4-week intervention and control periods, separated by ≥ 2 weeks washout. In the intervention period, an overnight fast (0100 h–0600 h) was implemented, by redistributing 24-h energy intake. Usual dietary habits were followed in the control period. Outcomes between intervention and control were compared using mixed effects linear regression models. Nineteen adults completed the trial [13 females, mean (±SD) age 41 ± 10 years, BMI 30.7 ± 5.7 kg/m2]. Postprandial triglyceride and glucose response post intervention were not different to post control. The overnight fast was well-tolerated by participants with an adherence rate of 95%, assessed by weekly 24-h dietary recalls. Exploratory analysis indicates lower mean body weight post intervention compared to post control (mean difference: −0.9 kg, 95% CI: −1.3 to −0.4). Conclusions: Night shift workers who habitually ate during their night shifts were able to rearrange their meal times to maintain a small overnight fast, which may have promoted small weight changes. This warrants further investigation into the role of meal timing in mitigating the metabolic consequences of night shift work. Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ( registered on the 30th May 2017 (ACTRN12617000791336).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1890-1902
Number of pages13
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2021


  • Circadian misalignment
  • Meal timing
  • Night eating
  • Postprandial glucose
  • Postprandial triglyceride
  • Shift work

Cite this