PhD defence

Time to Eat - The diet of night shift workers from different dietary perspectives and its association with health and safety

PhD candidate Mariëlle MG (Mariëlle) de Rijk MSc
Promotor EJM (Edith) Feskens
Co-promotor dr. S (Sanne) Boesveldt
External copromotor Dr Jeanne de Vries
Organisation Wageningen University

Tue 13 December 2022 13:30 to 15:00

Venue Omnia
Room Groot Auditorium


Night shift work is associated with increased health and safety risks due to a mismatch between internal biological timing and the sleep-wake schedule. Direct consequences night shift workers could experience during the night shift are reduced alertness levels, increased hunger feelings, and gastrointestinal complaints. Diet can mitigate or exacerbate these negative effects. Therefore, the overall aim of this thesis was to investigate which nutrition strategies can be applied to night shift workers in health care resulting in the most optimal alertness levels and the least hunger feelings and gastrointestinal complaints, or in other words, that provide the best safety and perceived well-being. Our results showed that consuming up to three small meals with a low glycaemic load can effectively reduce hunger feelings during the night shift, while alertness levels are maintained. This strategy may lead to more gastrointestinal complaints in some night shift workers and therefore they can best experience themselves whether this also applies to them. The overall current diet quality of night shift working nurses did not differ from a reference population. However, monitoring dietary quality may be very valuable as a complementary approach when studying other dietary factors such as nutrient intake and meal frequency because it evaluates the total diet pattern. It is particularly interesting to investigate the underlying components to potentially target nutrition intervention strategies where the greatest health gain can be achieved. Moreover, to improve the diet quality of night shift workers and to increase compliance to nutrition intervention strategies it seems to be important to include taste preferences in nutrition strategies.