Enhanced preference for high-fat foods following a simulated night shift

Cain, Sean W., Filtness, Ashleigh J., Phillips, Craig L., & Anderson, Clare (2015) Enhanced preference for high-fat foods following a simulated night shift. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 41(3), pp. 288-293.

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Shift workers are prone to obesity and associated co-morbidities such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Sleep restriction associated with shift work results in dramatic endocrine and metabolic effects that predispose shift workers to these adverse health consequences. While sleep restriction has been associated with increased caloric intake, food preference may also play a key role in weight gain associated with shift work. This study examined the impact of an overnight simulated night shift on food preference.


Sixteen participants [mean 20.1, standard deviation (SD) 1.4 years; 8 women] underwent a simulated night shift and control condition in a counterbalanced order. On the following morning, participants were provided an opportunity for breakfast that included high- and low-fat food options (mean 64.8% and 6.4% fat, respectively).


Participants ate significantly more high-fat breakfast items after the simulated night shift than after the control condition [167.3, standard error of the mean (SEM 28.7) g versus 211.4 (SEM 35.6) g; P=0.012]. The preference for high-fat food was apparent among the majority of individuals following the simulated night shift (81%), but not for the control condition (31%). Shift work and control conditions did not differ, however, in the total amount of food or calories consumed.


A simulated night shift leads to preference for high-fat food during a subsequent breakfast opportunity. These results suggest that food choice may contribute to weight-related chronic health problems commonly seen among night shift workers.

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7 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 82341
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: diet, dietary intake, eating, food, habit, health, night duty, night work, nutrition, obesity, shift work, shift worker, sleep loss, weight gain
DOI: 10.5271/sjweh.3486
ISSN: 1795-990X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NUTRITION AND DIETETICS (111100) > Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified (111199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology Psychopharmacology Physiological Psychology) (170101)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Deposited On: 09 Mar 2015 23:00
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2015 00:03

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