Relationships among shiftworker eating habits, eating satisfaction, and self-reported health in a population of US miners.
As part of a larger study on the health and safety of shiftworkers in the mining population by the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the association between meal frequency, meal regularity, eating satisfaction, and a self-reported health index was examined. Although the link between shiftwork and some health complaints, such as gastrointestinal disorders, has been established, the research needed to understand why this occurs has not been fully undertaken. Specifically, academic nutritional research has substantially ignored the question of how working irregular hours affects the eating behavior of industrial workers such as miners. In this study the eating habits of 101 surface mine workers were studied. It was found that working the day, afternoon-evening, and night shifts was related to the number of meals eaten on those shifts and to the consistency of timing of those meals. The lowest eating satisfaction levels were reported by those who ate at different times on all shifts and who changed the number of meals eaten per day on each shift. Lowest self-reported health ratings were reported by those who changed the number of meals taken on each shift, rather than by those who ate one, two, or three meals per day. These results are discussed in relation to the possible mechanisms contributing to gastrointestinal disorders and to coping mechanisms that could be adopted by shiftworkers.