1996 Volume 34 Issue 4 Pages 323-333
Biochemical hypoglycemia has attracted attention because it triggers accidents through errors in judgment by impairing cognitive function. Its prevalence and associated risk factors have remained unexplored in the area of occupational health. The present study was designed to investigate its epidemiological aspects in male volunteers. The study population of 76 male volunteers, 63 of whom were firefighters and 13 had other jobs, filled out questionnaires by interview covering 37 factors concerning age, physical parameters, past and current health problems, habits (smoking, drinking, and exercise), food preferences and life style. The participants were asked to measure their blood glucose levels 9 times over a representative workday and holiday and record any symptoms of hypoglycemia at the time of measurement. The body fat ratio of each participant was measured by the bioelectrical impedance analysis method. 22.4% of the participants (17/76) experienced biochemical hypoglycemia (less than 60mg/dl) at the time of blood glucose monitoring. Those who experienced biochemical hypoglycemia had significantly lower peak, average and nadir blood glucose levels (p<0.05; 115.1±18.7 mg/dl, 82.2±7.0mg/dl, 52.2±5.6mg/dl, respectively) than those who did not (129.9 ±26.7mg/dl, 97.0±9.9mg/dl, 75.9±9.7mg/dl, respectively). No symptom other than sudden hunger (p<0.05) was correlated with biochemical hypoglycemia. Lower lean body mass index (lean body mass/height2) was the only statistically significant contributory risk factor (p<0.05, Odds ratio: 2.91, 95% confidence interval 1.29-6.65) by multiple logistic analysis. Mean blood glucose levels had a positive correlation with lean body mass index (P<0.0001, r2=0.372). The present results suggest that biochemical hypoglycemia is a potential risk problem in occupational settings. Low L.B.M.I. males should be educated about the possibility of biochemical hypoglycemia whoever have experienced a feeling of sudden hunger. Such precautions should be highly recommended to workers under dangerous and/or tense conditions in order to prevent error accidents in occupational settings.