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Most Obese Profession Goes to the Truck Driver

Update Date: Jan 18, 2014 09:38 AM EST

In a new report, researchers examined obesity rates based on professions. By identifying which professions have the most overweight or obese workers, anti-obesity programs could be catered to help these specific individuals. The researchers discovered that some of the professions with the most obese employees include cleaning-service workers and mechanics. At the top of the lists was the truck driver.

"People spend about a third-or even half-of their waking hours in the workplace," said study lead author Dr. David Bonauto, from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries reported by Medical Xpress. "But not all work environments are alike. With obesity a big public-health concern, the key message here is that any effort an employer can make toward promoting a healthier work environment and healthier behavior among employees in their particular work setting is going to be meaningful and helpful for both employee and employer."

For this study, the researchers focused only on the residents of Washington state. They looked at the odd years from 2003 to 2009. The data came from annual surveys that collected data on people's eating habits, body mass index (BMI) and physical activity levels. Overall, the researchers had access to data on nearly 38,000 employees between 18 and 64-years-old.

The researchers found that around 25 percent of the sample set was obese with BMIs at 30 or above. The team discovered that older men who were less educated and had lower incomes had the highest risk of obesity within the state. In terms of occupation, the researchers found that 39 percent of truck drivers were obese. After truck drivers, followed firefighters, emergency responders, cleaning and building service workers, mechanics, repairmen, and administrative and clerical personnel. Only around 12 percent of health care diagnosticians, who include doctors, dentists and veterinarians were obese.

Bonauto noted that, "[One issue] is that our measurement of obesity doesn't account for people who are very muscular and have a lean body mass. Being muscular tends to artificially inflate BMI. Firemen or construction workers face a lot of physical demands at work and tend to be more muscular."

"While I wouldn't advise people to choose their career based on this, it's really no surprise that truck drivers top the list or that office workers chained to their desks have more issues with overweight and obesity," Lona Sandon said. "The work environment definitely can affect one's health. Employers who make an effort to encourage and make accessible physical activity and healthy eating can make a difference-not just to their worker's waistline, but also to their bottom line. A worker who's healthy is a worker who's more productive."

The study was published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.

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