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expert reaction to working hours and diabetes

Researchers examine working hours and diabetes risk, in a new study, published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.


Dr Ines Cebola, Society for Endocrinology member and Research Associate at Imperial College London, said:

“Diabetes has now reached pandemic proportions and there are over 400 million people affected around the globe. Type 2 diabetes accounts for more than 90% of all diabetes cases and arises from an interaction between environmental and genetic factors. Thus identification of modifiable risk factors constitutes an important avenue of research for prevention and management of diabetes.

“In this observational study, Gilbert-Ouimet and colleagues followed over 7000 Canadian workers to identify lifestyle and working patterns that could associate with stronger incidence of diabetes, observing that women working more than 45 hours per week show higher incidence of diabetes. Same results were not observed for men.

“I would like to stress that association studies of this sort cannot pinpoint causal mechanisms. In other words, the observation that women, but not men, working longer hours may be more prone to develop diabetes should not be interpreted as the number of working hours being the cause of the association. It might well reflect other societal factors.

“For example, it is possible that the kind of jobs that men and women hold while working more than 45 hours differs substantially. There is a disproportionate overrepresentation of men in very well-paid posts across various sectors, which often require long working hours. On the other hand, women working many hours per day may represent at large less-skilled and low-paid jobs. It is therefore possible that the authors compared very different groups of people with markedly different job posts, with different pay grades, and consequently differences in access to healthy diet, amongst other factors that do contribute to diabetes risk.

“I would therefore not draw definitive conclusions from this observational study.”


* ‘Adverse effect of long work hours on incident diabetes in 7065 Ontario workers followed for 12 years’ by Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet et al. published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care on Monday 2 July. 


Declared interests

None to declare.


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