Study chews the fat on truck driver obesity

Two-thirds of surveyed drivers obese, well above national average

Study chews the fat on truck driver obesity
Iveco’s Fit Cab paints an idealistic picture of what a truck driver’s lifestyle could look like


A Queensland University of Technology (QUT) report has confirmed the suspicions of most in industry – that truck drivers are among the nation’s most unhealthy.

Dr Marguerite Sendall from QUT’s School of Public Health and Social Work at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, led a survey of 231 truck drivers aged between 20 and 71 and discovered around two thirds of them are classified as obese, compared to one third of the Australian population.

The study, which formed the Truckies’ Nutrition and Physical Activity: A Cross-sectional Survey in Queensland, Australia report, comprised a multiple choice, short response survey to drivers asking them about self-reported health, their sources for health information, how much fruit and vegetables they ate, how much unhealthy food and how much moderate intensity physical exercise they did each week.

"Truck drivers’ work environments generally consist of long sedentary hours, erratic schedules and tight deadlines," Sendall says.

"They have limited access to healthy food options or physical activity and are therefore considered to be at a far greater risk of life-threatening conditions like cardio-vascular disease, diabetes and some cancers."

The research backs up the 12-year Monash University-led Driving Health Study published in 2018, which revealed truck drivers had a 13-fold higher risk of dying at work than other Australian workers, making it among the most dangerous occupations in the country.

Analysis from the Driving Health study can be found here

It found truck driving was a job with many health risks – long working hours, lots of sitting, poor nutrition, social isolation, shift work, time pressure, elevated risk of chronic disease and musculoskeletal conditions, low levels of job control, and a high risk of road crashes.


On a more positive note, the majority of drivers recognised the importance of improving their health, are motivated to do so and believe workplace health promotion is the most effective tool for that.

"Our previous research has suggested the use of social media and digital technologies as a health promotion intervention for truck drivers has potential," Sendall says.

"Truck drivers work long hours, are a highly mobile, pressured and hard-to-reach group so traditional health promotion strategies, such as television campaigns, can easily be missed.

"However, transport industry workplaces, including truck cabs, depots and truck stops, are seen as settings where health messages can be promoted effectively.

"It has been shown that workplace health promotion can generate improvements in drivers’ health knowledge, behaviours and self-reported health outcomes, as well as ease the burden on our public health system.

"Our research demonstrates a need for industry-wide adoption of this approach, along with some government incentives to encourage that Australia-wide."

Sendall says she is now collaborating with Brisbane-based Team Transport and Logistics to continue her push to help drivers make better choices about their health behaviour. 

The full report is available here


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