Truckies getting healthier

A health intervention program for truck drivers is reporting a 15 per cent decrease in obesity. The program organised by Queensland University of Technology’ Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation has found a 15 per cent drop in drivers self-reporting their body mass index (BMI) as obese, by getting truckies to eat healthier, exercise more and lose weight.



Due to the nature of the job, truck drivers are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.


Dr Marguerite Sendall, from QUT’s School of Public Health and Social Work



“The long hours and sedentary work life of truckies has the potential to be deadly when it comes to their health,” said Dr Marguerite Sendall, from QUT’s School of Public Health and Social Work.



Funded by the Queensland Government’s ‘Healthier.Happier.Workplaces’ initiative QUT developed the Queensland Transport Industry Workplace Health Intervention project to investigate the effectiveness of workplace based nutrition and physical activity health promotion programs for truck drivers in SE Queensland.



Sendall said workplaces were recognised as places which could contribute to good health but truck drivers’ workplaces were their vehicle and this mobile environment limited the effectiveness of traditional health promotion strategies. To overcome this challenge, QUT worked with transport industry workplaces to develop health promotion interventions suited to a mobile workforce. The two year project involved five transport industry workplaces employing between 20 and 200 truck drivers across the SE Queensland region.



“These interventions included offering healthy options in vending machines at work, supply of free fruit to drivers and instigating the 10,000 steps workplace challenge,” said Sendall. “With the support of the QUT research team, each workplace implemented up to four or five interventions. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to improving nutrition and physical activity in transport industry workplaces.



“What workplaces need to be doing is responding proactively to the barriers in each individual workplace. For example providing microwaves and small fridges, especially for line haul drivers.”



Sendall said a study of the effectiveness of the program has shown, overall, managers and truck drivers were satisfied with the interventions developed and implemented during the project.



“There were also positive health outcomes for drivers,” said Sendall. “For example there was an 18 per cent increase in the number of drivers who reported making lifestyle changes to improve their health (20 per cent pre-intervention to 38 per cent post-intervention). There was also an increase in the number of drivers self-reporting their health as ‘good’ and ‘excellent’.



“Truckies were also better informed about the Australian nutrition guideline recommendations for fruit and vegetables and drivers were also increasing their daily intake of fruit and vegetables.”