- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The National Institutes for Health has spent over $2.6 million since 2011 on a program to motivate truck drivers to lose weight.

The Oregon Health and Science University is conducting the program which sets up a weight-loss competition for truckers. Participants also get access to interactive health screenings, weight tips and motivational phone calls while they drive. 

Drivers experience multiple roadblocks to health, including laws permitting long work hours and an isolating job structure that restricts physical activity and dietary choices. Despite the growing health crisis, there is a lack of effective weight loss and health promotion interventions for truck drivers,” NIH’s grant description reads. 

To address this research gap, we developed an innovative intervention that is integrated with the job structure and modern technologies of truck driving,” the grant reads. “Our approach uses mobile computing technologies to provide training and feedback during a weight loss competition, and delivers motivational interviewing on cell phones.”

According to the grant description, long-haul truck drivers have overweight and obesity rates almost 20 percent higher than the general population and published results from the ongoing study suggest that trucker obesity can lead to accidents behind the wheel. 

Driver health problems, especially obesity and related conditions like sleep apnea, are related to driving errors and increased crash rates, impacting both driver safety and the safety of the general public,” according to a January 2014 paper on the study posted by HHS. 

Researchers are soliciting truckers from across the country to participate in the Safety and Health Involvement for Truckers (SHIFT) program. 

Truckers in the program record their weight and behavior every week and can receive free health screenings and win lottery prizes, the SHIFT website states. 

The project has received $386,985 this year, in addition to the $2,658,929 allocated for the program since 2011. The program is budgeted until 2016. 

Twenty-nine truck drivers participated in the pilot study, according to the 2014 paper, and lost an average of 7.8 pounds, or “roughly 1 BMI unit,” in six months.

 

 

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