DAILY NEWS Jul 18, 2012 3:09 PM - 15 comments

Wake up to the danger

Industry asleep at the wheel on costs of obesity to the bottom line

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When 86% of truck drivers are overweight or obese, what is that costing the industry?

The answer, unfortunately, is unknown. As Linda Moran, director of business development at the Lindora Clinic pointed out to carrier executives gathered at the Truckload Carriers Association convention, “You know what your fuel and maintenance costs are but you are not tracking your healthcare costs as closely and know where your dollars are going.”

Yet the overweight and obesity rate of 86% in trucking is much higher than the national average in the US which itself is a shocking 66%. There are 3.5 million obese truckers in the US and being overweight and obese is linked to more than 60 medical disorders, including 12 types of cancer. For example, more than 90% of the obese have Type 2 diabetes. Drivers taken off the road due to high blood pressure issues could be off work for 4-6 weeks before they get their condition back in check. Obese women spend $4,879 more on medical costs than average while obese men spend $2,646 more (mainly because men are less likely to visit a doctor.)

“We have all been asleep at the wheel to allow this to happen,” Moran said.  Her clinic is working with the Truckload Carriers Association in its Weight Loss Showdown, which has 11 carriers across North America competing with each other to improve the health of their employees. (Bison Transport and Brian Kurtz Trucking are the Canadian competitors.)

Moran said it’s estimated that 70% of all health care costs are caused by unhealthy behaviors. Eating right is a particularly challenging task for drivers, thanks to the many fast food outlets available along the major highways and the huge portions being served at many truckstops.

“Just around every corner there is temptation. Coupled with that is the challenge of being a ‘super size me’ nation. Your truck drivers are eating huge meals then sitting behind the wheel for hours on end,” said Ann Marie Coppen, PhD, director of research and clinic services at the Lindora Clinic.

Coppen said that many of the overweight and obese are embarrassed about their condition and have no clear understanding about how to change.

“But they have a desire to change and that’s all we need,” Coppen said.

Her company has worked with carriers such as Celadon and Knight Transportation and most recently Canada’s Bison Transport and Brian Kurtz Trucking to help their employees manage their weight and employ healthy eating and exercise practices into their life over the long term.  Reducing body weight by just 10% can yield significant health benefits and lead to people no longer needing to be on blood pressure or cholesterol medication.

“Employees have to actually care about the healthcare costs they’re generating and make sound and wise purchases. But drivers will care if they know you care,” said Moran in encouraging executives to implement health and wellness programs in their workplaces.

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Reader Comments

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It sure is tough being a trucker, and staying in shape. Here's my situation:
I drive out up to 3-5 days at at time. I slip seat between trucks and so don't have my own fridge, microwave, toaster etc, and I cross the border. You have to be careful about what you take across the USA line, and therefore makes it difficult to pack food. That means I end up buying my food at a truckstop, not always the best choice,
So how are we supossed to keep ourselves healthy on the road in these circumstances.?
I am open to suggestions

Posted August 5, 2012 10:01 PM

Neil Kromhout

Great article! Being a driver myself I know how easy it is to slip onto the highway to obesity. I found myself pushing the 300 lb mark and had a spare tire forming at my belt line. Fortunately just before breaking that massive mark, i was introduced to Herbalife meal replacement that gave me the nutrition I needed, satisfied my hunger, and could be quickly made even while sitting at a traffic light. In a matter of six weeks I went from 48' waist to 40 and shed almost 50 lbs. The greatest benefit was that my need for sleep to replace nutrition was gone. I no longer had that 10th hour "wall" to get over. This has been great for me and i would recommend it to any other driver. I enjoyed the benefits so much that my wife and I signed up as distributors.

Posted August 1, 2012 12:54 PM


I'm considered overweight on the BMI chart because I'm 5'10" tall and 178 lbs. I only have 7% body fat. I'm a steel hauler and get plenty of exercise on my route that averages about 12 deliveries per day.

There are a lot of very fit truckers that are considered overweight by a chart made to conform to people with desk jobs. The data is skewed.

I work with a bunch of flatbed, route runners. We are all in good shape. I recognize that there are plenty of out of shape truckers, but 86% is simply overstating the problem.

Posted July 30, 2012 08:43 PM


Who cares about truck driver's health? No one. Sorry for the directness of my answer. It's about time for us to do something about our own dilemma. I am doing something about it in North Carolina. I'm finished truck driving but now I'm building mobile 500 square foot cardio workout centers to be dropped off at truck stops. I'm tired of everyone giving mouth about truck drivers' health issues when in fact they Do nothing. Check out http://www.truckershealthclubs.com and see what you can do to take care of yourself and your family.

Posted July 24, 2012 10:53 AM

Billy "Risky Buissness"

I have been messing around with an idea to try to help drivers get in shape but need some feedback and maybe some assistance with the idea, i want to try to get a work out video for working out in your truck different ideas routines and suggestions. I would like in the future to have maybe a group of us that can get permission from the truck stops to do a work out segment at local truck stops to get drivers that want to work out the chance to work out with other drivers, we spend a lot of time alone in these trucks might be fun to work out and talk and meet new friends and drivers. Anybody have suggestions or thoughts maybe we can get Truck News to help..Lets get fit for our family's and children in 2012 and 2013!!!

Posted July 22, 2012 11:50 AM

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