Long Haul Truckers' Health in Jeopardy

February 6, 2014

Unhealthy Trucking Lifestyle

The latest report on the health of U.S. long-haul truck drivers isn't good. Long-haul truckers are twice as likely to be obese, more likely to smoke and more likely to suffer from chronic diseases than other working adults. That's the depressing verdict of a new study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that surveyed more than 1,500 long-haul truckers in 2010.

Trucking doesn't exactly lend itself to a healthy lifestyle. Sitting in the same position for long hours on the road, sleeping at odd hours in cramped cabs, eating at truck stops and spending long periods away from your family isn't a prescription for good health. But you do what you gotta' do.

That long-haul trucking is a potentially unhealthy and dangerous profession isn't exactly news, but there isn't much data available on trucker illness and injury. The new NIOSH study is the first to closely examine the health risk factors truckers face. According to a review by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), here's the bad news:

  • More than two-thirds of truckers are obese, more than twice as many as workers in other occupations.
  • Truckers are twice as likely to become diabetic as non-truckers.
  • More than half of truckers smoke, nearly two-and-a-half times as many as workers in other occupations.
  • More than half of truckers have some type of respiratory problem.
  • Nearly all truckers have at least one risk factor
  • obesity, smoking or high blood pressure -- for chronic disease, compared to only half of workers in other occupations.

In the one glimmer of good news, truckers exhibited a significantly lower rate of heart disease than other workers, although hypertension (high blood pressure) was about the same for both groups.

The NIOSH report concludes: "Survey findings suggest a need for targeted interventions and continued surveillance for long-haul truck drivers." That's just what we need, to have the feds dictating not only when we sleep but what we eat!

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