Studies show drivers in the trucking industry face a greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, a survey conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) showed twice as many self-reported type 2 diabetes cases among truck drivers compared to the national working population (14% vs. 7%).
Type 2 diabetes most often results from lifestyle and behavioral factors, meaning it can be avoided by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Because of the sedentary nature of the job, truckers are prone to developing risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes, including obesity, high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia (excess fat in the blood).
Here are some important statistics from the Harvard School of Public Health
- Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable, with about 9 in 10 cases being avoidable
- Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure among adults
- Diabetes is a significant risk factor for heart disease
- Diabetes can cause nerve damage that, coupled with circulation issues related to diabetes, can result the loss of a limb
- Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., directly causing almost 70,000 deaths and contributing to thousands more each year
So what's a truck driver to do? Many may not want to give up their access to the open road in order to avoid the driver lifestyle. Luckily, there are some prevention tactics even truckers can take to reduce their risk of developing diabetes.
Make Healthy Choices
- Get moderate exercise at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week
- A combination of aerobic exercise (heart rate rises) and resistance training (muscles use excess glucose) provides the greatest benefit
- Participants in one study who lost 7% of their initial body weight reduced the risk of diabetes by 58% through the above-mentioned exercise schedule
- Of those who lost 10% or more of their initial body weight, 90% did not develop type 2 diabetes
- Consume at least 14g of fiber per every 1,000 calories each day
- Avoid fad diets in lieu of a balanced, nutritious meal plan
- Instead of skipping meals, go for a healthy, filling snack
- Consume fewer calories via beverages, which are less likely to make you feel full
- Eat meals with a focus on fresh fruit and vegetables, poultry, and whole grains
- Reduce consumption of red and processed meats, French fries, high-fat dairy, refined grains, and sweets/desserts
Visit Your Physician
- After exercise and diet, smoking is one of the greatest risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes
- Smoking increases the risk of hypertension – a major factor in type 2 diabetes
- Begin regular checkups for diabetes starting at age 45
- Consult a doctor frequently if you are at risk for developing diabetes
- Attend free health screenings and test cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels
Especially for those in the transportation industry, these tasks may seem impossible at first. But with diligence and support from fellow drivers, you can put in the work for a brighter, healthier future.