Metabolic disturbances in male workers with rotating three-shift work. Results of the WOLF study

  • Berndt H. Karlsson
  • Anders K. Knutsson
  • Bernt O. Lindahl
  • Lars S. Alfredsson
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00420-003-0440-y

Cite this article as:
Karlsson, B.H., Knutsson, A.K., Lindahl, B.O. et al. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (2003) 76: 424. doi:10.1007/s00420-003-0440-y



The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between important metabolic risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) and type 2 diabetes in shift workers and day workers.


Cross-sectional data from a sub-population in the WOLF study consisting of 665 day workers and 659 three-shift workers in two plants were analysed.


A higher proportion of shift workers than day workers had high triglyceride levels (≥1.7 mmol/l), low levels of HDL-cholesterol (<0.9 mmol/l) and abdominal obesity (waist/hip ratio>0.9). The risk of low HDL-cholesterol was doubled in shift workers, (odds ratio (OR): 2.02, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.24–3.28) after being adjusted for age, socio-economic factors, physical activity, current smoking, social support and job strain. High levels of triglycerides were also significantly associated with shift work (OR: 1.40, 95% CI: 1.08–1.83). The OR for abdominal obesity was 1.19, (95% CI: 0.92–1.56). The prevalence of hyperglycaemia (serum glucose ≥7.0 mmol/l) was similar in day and shift workers. No significant interaction was seen between shift work and abdominal obesity with regard to the associations with triglycerides and HDL-cholesterol.


We found a significant association between shift work and lipid disturbances (i.e. low HDL-cholesterol and high triglyceride levels). We did not find any association with hyperglycaemia.


Shift work Metabolic factors Abdominal obesity job strain 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Berndt H. Karlsson
    • 1
  • Anders K. Knutsson
    • 1
  • Bernt O. Lindahl
    • 2
  • Lars S. Alfredsson
    • 3
  1. 1.Occupational Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical MedicineUniversity of UmeåUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Behavioural Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical MedicineUniversity of UmeåUmeåSweden
  3. 3.Division of Cardiovascular Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental MedicineKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations