Obesity And HGV Drivers

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Obesity And HGV Drivers


 By Chris Jarratt of Bariquins (Apr 2016)


Last week, research published in The Lancet medical journal stated that by 2025, a fifth of all adults around the world and a third of those in the UK will be obese. Obesity is classed as having a body mass index over 30. The effect that this amount of obesity will have on such organisations like the NHS, councils, care homes and many others will be immeasurable. Although, that’s 9 years away, it will be a daily incremental increase up to that point.

With the report registering alarm at the fact that, globally, a fifth of adults would be obese, it reminded me of some stats that I had read a couple of years ago concerning long distance truckers in the US. There, a survey conducted in 2010, found that a staggering 69% of them were classed as obese! For every 10 of their trucks, 7 would be driven by obese drivers. Amazingly, this was not the worst statistic. The survey also reported that 88% of US long haul truckers had at least one risk factor for chronic disease. That’s all but 1 of 10 truckers having one or more incidences of hypertension, who smoke or who are obese or have a combination of those influences.


But What About The UK?


            Here in the United Kingdom, the British Sleep Foundation reported a survey that showed that more than 50% of HGV drivers were regarded as obese. This organisation considers lorry drivers to be a particular risk for obesity because of their sedentary working conditions, their unhealthy high-fat diets and that they work unsocial hours. You may wonder why an organisation that is concerned with sleep, is surveying lorry drivers. It is estimated that 80,000 out of half a million HGV drivers may suffer from sleep apnoea without knowing it, a condition that obesity can cause. Sleep apnoea is when a person suffers from a chronic snoring condition and also temporarily stops breathing throughout their sleeping period, leading to tiredness during the waking hours. A combination of tiredness and 40 tons of truck travelling at motorway speeds is a dangerous one. Albeit one that has been recognised by the UK government which is why, amongst other reasons, HGV drivers over 45 undergo a medical examination when they renew their licence. Previous research has concluded that 17% of injury or fatal collisions on motorways and main trunk roads is caused by sleep-related factors.

            As the levels of UK obesity approach those that the US is already at, there will be an increasing number of collisions involving obese people, whether they are HGV, PSV, van or car drivers or their passengers. That will lead to greater amount of complicated extrications of obese people around the UK, the complexity of which will be increased if the removal of the casualty needs to be completed quickly to save lives.




Trends in adult body-mass index in 200 countries from 1975 to 2014, published in The Lancet Volume 387, No. 10026, p1377–1396, 2 April 2016.

Obesity and other risk factors: The National Survey of U.S. Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury. W. Karl Sieber PhD, MS, Cynthia F. Robinson PhD, MS, Jan Birdsey MPH, Guang X. Chen MD, MSc, Edward M. Hitchcock PhD, MS, Jennifer E. Lincoln MSSM, Akinori Nakata PhD and Marie H. Sweeney PhD, MPH, Jan 2014.

The Silent Killer in the Cab, article on The Mover website. May 2011.

Sleep Related Crashes on Sections of Different Road Types in the UK (1995-2001) D. Flatley, L. A. Reyner & J. A. Hoare.

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