Firefighters across the nation are battling more than blazes. A new study from the University of Texas Health Science Center finds seventy percent of firefighters in America are overweight or obese.
Dr. Sue Day is an associate professor of epidemiology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. She says many firefighters, especially the younger overweight or obese men and women, received no advice at all about losing weight. "It's a true missed opportunity for doing prevention in this very high risk group," says Day.
Captain Eric Jackson with Dekalb County Fire says a number of the fire stations in Dekalb have workout equipment for the firefighters to use. Captain Jackson says he can understand how a firefighter may have to battle the bulge. "It's kind of a cultural thing, you go to a lot of the fire stations and they fix great meals and you have a lot of good times around the table."
Dr. Day says it's important that doctors give firefighters advice about weight loss and overall health. She says older firefighters were more likely than their younger co-workers to get guidance from their doctor. The report finds American firefighters have high rates of obesity and cardiovascular problems, and these ailments are leading causes of line-of-duty deaths. Nearly half of the firefighters who saw a doctor in the past year were given no advice concerning their weight.
While the actual American firefighter may not be the fairytale hunk that young boys dream of becoming and young women fantasize about, Captain Jackson says, "We certainly like to pride ourselves on being calendar ready."