Influences on dietary choices during day versus night shift in shift workers: A mixed methods study

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Shift work is associated with diet-related chronic conditions such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. This study aimed to explore factors influencing food choice and dietary intake in shift workers. A fixed mixed method study design was undertaken on a convenience sample of firefighters who continually work a rotating roster. Six focus groups (n = 41) were conducted to establish factors affecting dietary intake whilst at work. Dietary intake was assessed using repeated 24 h dietary recalls (n = 19). Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and interpreted using thematic analysis. Dietary data were entered into FoodWorks and analysed using Wilcoxon signed-rank test; p < 0.05 was considered significant. Thematic analysis highlighted four key themes influencing dietary intake: shift schedule; attitudes and decisions of co-workers; time and accessibility; and knowledge of the relationship between food and health. Participants reported consuming more discretionary foods and limited availability of healthy food choices on night shift. Energy intakes (kJ/day) did not differ between days that included a day or night shift but greater energy density (EDenergy, kJ/g/day) of the diet was observed on night shift compared with day shift. This study has identified a number of dietary-specific shift-related factors that may contribute to an increase in unhealthy behaviours in a shift-working population. Given the increased risk of developing chronic diseases, organisational change to support workers in this environment is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number193
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Communicative disease
  • Nutrition
  • Qualitative methodology
  • Shift work

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