Skip to main content

21-12-2021 | Diabetes | News | Article

Sticking to daytime eating could combat glucose dysregulation in shift-workers

Eleanor McDermid

medwireNews: Keeping meals to their usual daytime slots may help prevent glucose dysregulation in night-shift workers, research shows.

In the study from Sarah Chellappa (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and team, 19 healthy people (12 men, seven women) spent 14 days in a laboratory setting, which included periods of normal waking and sleeping hours and periods of simulated night-shift work.

When the study participants ate their breakfast at their usual early morning time, despite being awake during the night to simulate night-shift work, their 3-hour postprandial glucose profile did not differ from the day-shift condition.

However, when breakfast was rescheduled in line with night-shift waking hours, as workers frequently do in reality, there was a significant average 19.4% increase in 3-hour postprandial glucose profile. Also, postprandial early-phase insulin release, as an estimate of beta-cell function, decreased by an average of 52.9%.

The researchers say these adverse effects come from a combination of circadian misalignment and changing the breakfast meal from the circadian morning to evening.

However, during simulated night-shift work, participants’ glucose metabolism was not affected by whether they ate their evening meal at the usual time or shifted it to be in line with their waking hours. In this case, Chellappa et al explain that the detrimental effects of circadian misalignment would be offset by the benefits of moving this meal from the circadian evening to morning, thus increasing glucose tolerance.

They conclude in Science Advances that misalignment of eating and fasting, rather than of sleeping and waking, with the central circadian clock is primarily responsible for reduced glucose tolerance and so “the alignment of fasting/eating cycle to the central circadian pacemaker may prevent glucose intolerance in most shift workers.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2021 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

Sci Adv 2021; 7: eabg9910

See the research in context now

with trial summaries, expert opinion and congress coverage