Study: Drivers face greater risk for heart disease, obesity

Updated Jun 17, 2019
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A new white paper from Atlas Injury Prevention Solutions paints a grim picture of health trends seen among trucking industry employees, particularly drivers.

Transportation industry employees have a 52% incidence of obesity, higher than the national average of 38%, according to a new white paper released by Atlas Injury Prevention Solutions, an injury prevention firm. They’re also at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, the study found.

The paper explores the results of a five-year survey, which examined health trends within the transportation industry among both drivers and non-drivers. Conducted from 2014-2018, the study included 5,953 drivers and 9,212 non-driver employees in the transportation industry. Grouped into the non-driver bucket are also family members of transportation industry employees who were covered by the company medical plan.

Highlights from the paper include:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, the incidence of obesity in the U.S. is 38%. The study found that, for the transportation industry participants, it was 52%, higher than the national CDC figure. The driver group had a 30% increase in the rate of obesity.
  • Of the 15,165 participants, 33% had at least three out of five conditions associated with metabolic syndrome (MetS). Those conditions include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. MetS increases an individual’s risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Drivers in the study were 80% more likely to be in the category than non-drivers.
  • The study found evidence of a positive correlation between aging and increased incidence of MetS. Younger drivers experienced a higher incidence of MetS conditions before the non-driver group. Of drivers ages 40-59, 50% had MetS – the same percentage as their 60+-year-old counterparts. Comparatively, in the general U.S. population, 34% of individuals ages 40-59 have MetS conditions, as do 47% of those 60 and above. Male study participants, independent of age, had a high incidence of all MetS conditions except for waist circumference.
  • Drivers are 130% more likely to smoke than non-drivers in the transportation industry workforce. Out of the total study population, 16% reported tobacco use, though the paper contends that number is likely “understated.”

The full report is available online.