The scientific community has long recognized that the incidence of diabetes continues to rise, despite efforts to promote healthier diets and increased physical activity. For this reason, the expanded focus now includes identifying other modifiable diabetes risk factors, including environmental and social considerations. Sleep deficits have recently been implicated in an increased risk of diabetes, and now, according to new research by Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet (lead author affiliated with The Institute for Work & Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and her team, women who work 45 hours per week or more have a considerably higher risk of developing diabetes when compared to men with the same schedule.

The researchers evaluated data extracted from the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey completed by Ontario respondents with no previous diagnoses of diabetes ranging from age 35 to 74 years. The survey was linked to Ontario databases that recorded physician services and hospital admissions. The relationship between working longer hours and an incidence of diabetes was evaluated using Cox proportional hazard regression models.

The authors concluded that because a sample representing the variety of the Canadian labor market was used, the current study suggests that working 45 hours or more per week was associated with an increased incidence of diabetes among women. The team also noted that “Considering the rapid and substantial increase of diabetes prevalence in Canada and worldwide, identifying modifiable risk factors such as long work hours is of major importance to improve prevention and orient policy making, as it could prevent numerous cases of diabetes and diabetes-related chronic diseases.”

The report authors added that additional studies were needed to establish what is the most likely connection between work hours, health behaviors, responsibilities for family at home, gender, and diabetes in order to develop guidelines to decrease the risk of diabetes.

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