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Doctors are Failing to Tell Overweight Firemen to Lose Weight

Update Date: Jul 11, 2014 01:44 PM EDT

Being overweight or obese is detrimental to one's overall health because it can lead to the development of other diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. In a new report, researchers examined the overweight/obesity rate in firemen, who are often depicted as big, muscled men. The report found that over 70 percent of firefighters could be classified as overweight or obese and barely any of them had received any advice to lose weight from their primary care physicians.

"Firefighters struggle with their weight similarly to all Americans," Dr. Rena Sue Day, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at University of Texas School of Public Health and a coauthor of the paper, said according to CBS News. "However, since firefighters' jobs require a greater level of fitness and stamina than typical jobs, due to the strenuous nature of the work, it is a more serious issue."

For this study, the researchers examined data on 1,002 male firefighters. Based from this sample, the researchers found that more than 70 percent of them were overweight or obese. 96 percent of the firemen reported going to their doctor's within the past year. 69 percent of them stated that they did not get any advice on weight management. For obese men in particular, 48 percent stated that they did not receive any advice at all.

"There are a lot of firefighters who are in great shape," said Dr. Day. "Bigger doesn't always mean stronger, there's a difference between fitness and being big. Something has to be done. It's really a missed opportunity and that's the important message."

The researchers found that younger firefighters were less likely than older ones to receive any weight management care. Even though obesity should be addressed regardless of age, the researchers stressed that starting men on a weight-loss regimen as early as possible is vital for future health.

"We need to get these 20 year-olds who are overweight and obese and begin there," Day stressed according to the Los Angeles Times.

The study, "Physician Weight Recommendations for Overweight and Obese Firefighters, United States, 2011-2012," was published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Preventing Chronic Disease.

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