If there is one thing certain about our industry it’s that the people that are its lifeblood are not getting any younger. In fact, the average age in our industry is older than the national average. What should perhaps be of even greater concern, however, is that as we get older we are also not getting healthier.
As was pointed out at a seminar I attended at the recent Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) convention, a staggering 86% of truck drivers in the US are overweight or obese, which is considerably higher than the national average of 66% (a shocking statistics in itself). I don’t have Canadian statistics to share with you but I doubt our stats would be significantly better.
I debated whether to write this column. The rules I was brought up under basically said a person’s weight was nobody’s business but his own. And in these days of “political correctness” we are, and should be, sensitive to how our words affect others in the workplace.
But does it make sense to continue keeping quiet when the numbers being revealed point to such a colossal issue? Did you know that 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.
As Linda Moran, director of business development at the Lindora Clinic pointed out at the TCA convention: “We have all been asleep at the wheel to allow this to happen.”
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.
Many of the overweight and obese are embarrassed about their condition and have no clear understanding about how to change, according to Moran’s colleague, Ann Marie Coppen, PhD.
But they have a desire to change and that’s a perfect starting point.
Lindora has worked with carriers such as Celadon, Knight Transportation and most recently Bison Transport and Brian Kurtz Trucking in Canada to help their employees manage their weight and employ healthy eating and exercise practices into their life over the long term. Lindora is also working with the TCA in its Weight Loss Showdown, which has 11 carriers across North America competing with each other to improve the health of their employees.
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.
Does it make sense to continue ignoring this issue when the answer is so simple?
With more than 25 years of experience reporting on transportation issues, Lou is one of the more recognizable personalities in the industry. An award-winning writer well known for his insightful writing and meticulous market analysis, he is a leading authority on industry trends and statistics. All posts by Lou Smyrlis