Objective To describe the food intake of garbage collectors, who works in three shifts, in terms of meal and snack frequency, content, time distribution and the contribution of various popular foods to the total diet.
Methods Sixty-six Brazilian garbage collectors, who work in morning, afternoon, and night shift, participated in the present study. The quantitative methods used were a combination of one 24-h recall and two 24-h records during three nonconsecutive work days. The qualitative method used was the food-based classification of eating episodes model modified in order to define meals or snacks in three categories of events: meals with three food groups of high nutrient density (three HND meals), meals with two food groups of high nutrient density (two HND meals) and snacks, composed of only one food category of high nutrient density.
Results The total number of eating events per day was significantly higher for night shift workers. Over 24-h, ‘two HND meals’ were the most common events and contributed the most energy, in all three shifts. Night shift workers ate more at dawn and less in the morning than other shifts. In all three shifts, meat was the most important food contributing to energy intake.
Conclusion Different work schedules did not affect the relative frequency of meal types and snacks or their contribution to daily energy intake, but affected the daily distribution of eating events, with a redistribution of intake from day to night in night shift workers.