Research Papers

Nutrition Assessment of Long-Haul Truck Drivers: Implications on Health, Quality of Life and Road Safety

Version 1
Date added June 18, 2019
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Category 2019 CARSP XXIX Calgary
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 5B
Author/Auteur Zello, Malkin, Madani Larijani, Crizzle
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only:



Background/Context: The nutritional health of long-haul truck drivers (LH-TD) is a concern due to a myriad of dietary and environmental factors that increase their risks for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular related diseases. These diseases also present concerns in the trucking industry as the associated morbidities are a risk to road safety, ability to work and perform tasks. Obesity and associated sleep apnea (OSA) are positively correlated to motor vehicle crashes. Diabetes and heart diseases result in decreased productivity due to increases in sick days and the inability to carry out responsibilities of the work. A dearth of nutrition research exists involving truck drivers, and its role in truck driver safely, especially studies comprising of a full nutrition assessment (NA).

Aims/Objectives: Understanding the role of nutrition practices and outcomes in LH-TD will have important implications for not only the health and quality of life of drivers but also traffic safety. The primary objective of our study was to determine the nutritional health of LH-TD in Western Canada through NA, interviews and a survey. In addition, we will determine the association of our NA data on the health, quality of life, occurrences of crashes and workplace injuries in LH-TD.

Methods/Targets: NA and surveys were completed by 137 LH-TD. NA included objective physical (i.e. anthropometry, grip-strength), body composition (i.e. bio-impedance), blood pressure (BP) measurements, and dietary recalls. Survey data on the food environment, medical conditions, crashes (and near misses), citations, driving while fatigued were collected. The study took place at 5 truck stops in Alberta and 2 in Saskatchewan over a 2-month period (August-September).

Results/Activities: The majority of LH-TD (>50%) were classified as overweight (BMI 25-29.9) or obese (BMI >30) and BP measurements were higher than normal. Many truck drivers had high body fat (>30%). Dietary intake/patterns were determined to be of poor quality with little variety and consumption of high-caloric, non-nutrient dense foods. Overall, most food/meals were purchased and not prepared by the drivers. Convenience, taste and preparation time were some of the reasons for food choices. Next steps include determining how nutrition practices and the prevalence of nutrition related NCDs and OSA in our sample are associated with road safety issues.

Discussion/Deliverables: A high percentage of LH-TD were shown to have risk factors for chronic diseases and a poor quality of life (e.g. increases in morbidities, early death). The dietary intake/patterns of these drivers are indicative of unhealthy practices resulting in high rates of overweight/obesity and BP. The food environment and lifestyle are contributing factors to drivers' health and the relationships to truck safety are now being analysed using our interview and survey data.

Conclusions: Opportunities for a better lifestyle (e.g. healthy diet, physical activity) for LH-TD needs addressing at both the community level (e.g. truck stops) and in government policy. LH-TD are more susceptible to the already problematic food environment in Canada and unhealthy food choices due to the nature of the work, and as such, pose greater road safety risks.