Long-haul truck drivers face greater risk of obesity, chronic disease: NIOSH

A new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the United States found that long-haul truck drivers were twice as likely to be obese compared to the adult working population, as well as more likely to smoke and suffer from other risk factors for chronic disease.
The study, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, is the first to provide a comprehensive look at the health status, risk factors, and work practices of long-haul truck drivers in the U.S.

NIOSH conducted the survey in 2010 interviewing 1,670 long-haul truck drivers at truck stops across the continental U.S. about their health and work practices. According to the survey, 69 per cent of these drivers were obese and 54 per cent smoked. Additionally, 88 per cent of long-haul truck drivers reported having at least one risk factor (hypertension, smoking and obesity) for chronic disease, compared to only 54 per cent of the general U.S. adult working population.

“Truck drivers serve a vital role in our nation’s economy, ensuring the safe and timely delivery of goods across the U.S.,” said NIOSH director John Howard. “This initial survey helps us work collaboratively with the trucking industry on understanding how to improve the lives of truckers both on the road and at home.”

Long-haul truck drivers are professional drivers of heavy and tractor-trailer trucks whose delivery routes require them to have to take sleep breaks away from home. There is limited information on illness and injury in this population, which prompted the survey by NIOSH. 

The data collected from this survey will help to establish a picture of the health conditions, risk factors and work practices for long-haul truck drivers, giving the trucking industry and researchers valuable information to guide health and safety efforts, said NIOSH.