Shift Work, Diet and Type 2 Diabetes: The Media Response

Plos Blogs, By Clare Weaver, Posted: February 9, 2012.

In December, PLoS Medicine published a paper by An Pan and colleagues, which focused on shift work and type 2 diabetes. The authors found that working night shifts on rotation over extended periods of time modestly increased the risk of type 2 diabetes and that this appeared to be partly mediated by body weight. The study has been viewed over 8000 times since publication and has attracted a great deal of press attention. Since the study was US-based, it was no surprise that much of this coverage came from American media sites such as USA Today, the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post (who reposted a report by Amanda Gardner at Health.com). Elsewhere in the world, however, the findings also made a significant impact, with the UK’s Daily Mail, Canada’s CBC News and the German magazine Focus all covering the paper.

Image credit: National Archives of Records Administration

Many media outlets opted for factual headlines reflecting the study’s findings, such as CNN’s ‘Night shift work may raise diabetes risk’ (also reposted from Health.com), and ‘Irregular Night-Shift Work Associated With Higher Diabetes Risk’ from the Wall Street Journal. The LA Times, however, chose the punchier “Shift work: Good for your pocketbook, bad for your health.” In her piece, reporter Melissa Healy explains that, although “these days, it’s just good to have a job”, if your job involves shift work your physical wellbeing could suffer. Alice Park at TIME also mentions shift work in light of the current economic climate, commenting that “the night shift isn’t usually anyone’s first choice, but in some professions — and in this economy — it can’t be avoided.” In a Perspective article published in PLoS Medicine on the same day as the research paper, Mika Kivimäki, David Batty and Christer Hublin state that “We are increasingly residing in a “24/7” society; thus, the option to eradicate shift working is not realistic.” Read Full Article