Truck drivers, cleaners, and mechanics: don't sit down for this one. A new study finds that workers in these occupations have some of the highest obesity rates of any job, with clerical and administrative workers, as well as health-service employees, completing the top spots. The study, out of Washington state, looked at factors such as fruit and vegetable intake, smoking rates, body mass index (BMI), and the how physically demanding the job is for nearly 38,000 workers.
When over 35 percent of American adults are obese, the results of the study are staggering. For truck drivers, a job where there is really no choice but to sit down, the obesity rate is much higher than the average for all workers. Nearly 39 percent of truckers surveyed are obese, compared to 25 percent of all workers.
Another interesting finding? Smokers who are employed had a lower obesity rate than employed non-smokers, which the study puts down to the unfortunate ability of cigarettes to stop you from feeling hungry. And where data was available, Latino workers tended to have a higher rate of obesity, mirroring the national trend. Latinos have an average obesity rate of 39 percent, whereas non-Hispanic whites tip the scales at just over 34.3 percent. In the Washington survey, data was not available for African-Americans.
Unsurprisingly, some of the lowest rates of obesity rates are within health diagnosing jobs, where workers have obesity rates hovering around 11 percent, and natural and social scientists, whose workforce is just above 17 percent obese. Food preparation and service jobs, as well as construction-related occupations, are also on the lower end of the spectrum.
The study also finds that some people really need to eat a salad. Only 14 percent of mechanics and repairers and 15 percent of computer scientists get an adequate portion of fruit and vegetables a day, while, naturally, registered nurses have the highest rate of fruit and veggie intake at nearly 40 percent.
Dr. David Bonauto, the study's lead author, reminds us that like sleeping, people spend around a third, or even a half, of their waking hours at work. However, the study doesn't report a link between the type of job and rate of obesity. The study's authors hope that the findings will spur some companies to make healthy improvements to their work environments. Bonauto also points out that the results can be misleading in some cases: there is sometimes a higher BMI number among people with high muscle rate and lean body mass, common among fireman and construction workers.
Still, the office environment can be harmful to the desk-chained worker. We've known for a while now that spending too much time sitting down during the day could be deadly, with very few health benefits and worrying comparisons to smoking. Unfortunately, it might take a few years before the treadmill desk equivalent for truckers is invented.
If you have a few minutes to spare, it's not that hard to grab a little exercise at work. Here's one way, brought to you by Joanna Rohrback, "Prancercise" extraordinaire: