Temporary employment, a precarious form of employment, is recognized as social determinant of poor health. However, evidence supporting precarious employment as a risk factor for health is mainly obtained from subjective data. Studies using objective clinical measurement data in the assessment of health status are limited. This study compared body mass index (BMI), lipid and glucose metabolism, and health-related lifestyle factors between permanent workers and fixed-term workers employed in the manufacturing industry.
Data of 1,701 male manufacturing industry workers <50 years old in Japan were collected and analyzed. Anthropometric data were BMI, calculated using measured height and weight of study participants, and blood pressure. For lipid metabolism, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglyceride levels were determined. For glucose metabolism, fasting plasma glucose and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels were measured. Multiple regression analysis adjusted for age and lifestyle factors was performed.
BMI was significantly higher in permanent workers (22.9 kg/m2) compared with fixed-term workers (22.4 kg/m2). The leaner population (BMI < 18.5) was greater among fixed-term workers (8.3%) compared with permanent workers (4.0%), whereas the overweight population (BMI ≥ 25.0) was greater among permanent workers (21.4%) compared with fixed-term workers (18.1%). Although fixed-term workers tended not to be overweight, regression analysis adjusted for age and lifestyle factors suggested that fixed-term employment was significantly associated with higher blood pressure (systolic β = 2.120, diastolic β = 2.793), triglyceride (β = 11.147), fasting blood glucose (β = 2.218), and HbA1c (β = 0.107) compared with permanent workers (all p < 0.01).
Fixed-term workers showed more health risks, such as poorer blood pressure and lipid and glucose metabolism, even when adjusted for age and lifestyle variables, although BMI of fixed-term workers were lower than permanent workers. Precarious work might contribute to a deteriorating health status even among less overweight populations.