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Adverse effect of long work hours on incident diabetes in 7065 Ontario workers followed for 12 years


Objective — According to the International Diabetes Federation, the most important challenge for prevention is now to identify social and environmental modifiable risk factors of diabetes. In this regard, long work hours have recently been linked with diabetes, but more high-quality prospective studies are needed. We evaluated the relationship between long work hours and the incidence of diabetes among 7065 workers over a 12-year period in Ontario, Canada.

Research Design and Methods — Data from Ontario respondents (35–74 years of age) to the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey were prospectively linked to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan database for physician services and the Canadian Institute for Health Information Discharge Abstract Database for hospital admissions. Our sample consisted of actively employed participants with no previous diagnoses of diabetes. Cox proportional hazard regression models were then performed to evaluate the relationship between long work hours (≥45 hours per week) and the incidence of diabetes.

Results — Long work hours did not increase the risk of developing diabetes among men. However, among women, those usually working 45 hours or more per week had a significantly higher risk of diabetes than women working between 35 and 40 hours per week (HR: 1.63 (95% CI 1.04 to 2.57)). The effect was slightly attenuated when adjusted for the potentially mediating factors which are smoking, leisure time physical activity, alcohol consumption and body mass index.

Conclusion — Working 45 hours or more per week was associated with an increased incidence of diabetes among women, but not men. Identifying modifiable risk factors such as long work hours is of major importance to improve prevention strategies and orient policy making.



Gilbert-Ouimet M, Ma H, Glazier R, Brisson C, Mustard C, Smith PM. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2018; 6:e000496. Epub 2018 Jul 2.

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