The health risks of shift work

Security staff at Westmead Hospital are combating health risks that can arise due to shift work as part of Healthy Weight Week.

Since Monday, security officers at the hospital have taken small steps that could improve their health, including increasing their physical activity while on shift by taking the stairs, walking a longer route while on patrol and improving their diets.

Merrylands resident Ramon Molejona, one of 20 security officers taking part in the workplace health initiative, whose shifts fluctuate between nights and days, said he will learn how to balance his diet.

"With shift work, it's easy to crave junk food at night. You can never have regular meal times due to work commitments, and food is not always available late at night. It's also easy to fall into irregular sleeping patterns," Mr Molejona said.

Christine Newman, health promotion manager for the Western Sydney Local Health District, said shift workers are at increased risk of obesity, gastrointestinal problems and heart disease. A British medical study reported shift workers have a 23 per cent higher risk of heart attack.

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