Shift workers 'at increased risk of diabetes and obesity'

US research signals warning over employee health and wellbeing

Shift workers getting too little sleep at the wrong times of day could face a higher risk of developing diabetes and becoming obese, according to a scientific study.

Researchers said that changes to normal sleep patterns mean the body can struggle to control sugar levels.

As a result, shift working could have serious implications for employee health and wellbeing, the researchers said.

Doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in the US, were trying to study the effect of shift working in a controlled environment.

Twenty one participants in the study started with 10 hours' sleep at night. This was followed by three weeks of disruption to their sleep and body clocks.

During this part of the study, sugar levels in the blood were "significantly increased" immediately after a meal and during "fasting" parts of the day.

Some participants even developed early symptoms of diabetes within weeks.

The research group called for more efforts to reduce the health impact of shift working.

The results are published in Science Translational Medicine.

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