Bus drivers have the highest rate of obesity among 14 occupation groups measured in a survey for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Transportation workers have a 36 percent obesity rate, according to the USA Today report.
Transit workers also suffer at higher rates from a number of medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to information from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. A veteran bus driver blamed the prolonged sitting that drivers do.
“First the sedentary nature of the work, sitting much of the day with the inability to move around, even for bathroom breaks,” Ed Watt told USA Today. Watt drove a bus in Brooklyn and Manhattan for 20 years and now serves as the Director of Health and Safety for the Transport Workers Union of America AFL-CIO. “The second is the mobile nature of the job leaves poor food choices. So fast food rules.”
Watt also said:
“The other factor is that these jobs are highly stressful,” he said. “The stress of the jobs results from high demand and low control over the work. Traffic, people and schedule are all big items that are beyond your control as a driver. As a result of the stress, many are inclined to mal-adaptive coping mechanism.”
The good news, Watt said, is that part of his job is working to make it easier for the transportation workers to lose the top spot on the Gallup list.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the obesity scale, doctors were practicing what they preach as only 14 percent of physicians were obese, followed by 20% of business owners and 21 percent of teachers.
Joining bus drivers to top the obese scales were manufacturing and production workers, 30% of whom were obese, followed by 28% of installation or repair workers and 26% of office workers.
This was a nationwide survey; there’s no word on the obesity rate among CTA employees.