Working Long Hours at Certain Jobs Ups Diabetes Risk

In the study, socioeconomic status was based on occupational title. For instance, high socioeconomic status jobs included managers or directors; intermediate socioeconomic status jobs included clerical, skilled or non-manual work; and low socioeconomic status jobs included manual workers. In some cases when occupational information was unavailable, socioeconomic status was determined by the participant’s self-reported highest educational qualification.

Clinical Implications

While they have yet to determine why working long hours at low socioeconomic status jobs may increase risk for diabetes, the researchers identified a few possible explanations. For example, disruptive work schedules may limit their ability to participate in health-restoring behaviors, like sleeping and exercise.

“The pooling of all available studies on this topic allowed us to investigate the association between working hours and diabetes risk with greater precision than has been previously possible,” Dr. Kivimäki said in a press release.

“Although working long hours is unlikely to increase diabetes risk in everyone, health professionals should be aware that it is associated with a significantly increased risk in people doing low socioeconomic status jobs,” he added.

In a linked comment, Orfeu M. Buxton, PhD, of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, and Cassandra Okechukwu, ScD, MSN, MPH, of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, applauded the study.

“Kivimäki and colleagues’ elegantly designed study provides a solid foundation for both epidemiological and intervention work on diabetes risks,” they wrote.

“The results remained robust even after controlling for obesity and physical activity, which are often the focus of diabetes risk prevention, suggesting that work factors affecting health behaviors and stress may need to be addressed as part of diabetes prevention.”


  1. Kivimäki M et al. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2014;doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70178-0.
  2. Buxton OM, Okechukwu CA. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2014;doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70201-3.