Obese US firefighters report receiving no weight advice from their health provider

July 11, 2014

HOUSTON - (July 10, 2014) - Obese and overweight firefighters are not receiving weight management advice from their health care providers, according to new research from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

National guidelines state that health care professionals (HCPs) should advise patients on the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. Firefighters have high rates of obesity, and cardiovascular events are the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in firefighters. This study assessed the association of age and body mass index (BMI) with HCP weight recommendations among male firefighters.

Researchers used data on self-reported HCP weight recommendations and measured BMI from a 2011-2012 national sample of male firefighters. HCP recommendations were recorded as no advice, maintain, gain, or lose weight, and BMI was categorized as normal, overweight, class I obese, and class II or III obese. We used multinomial logistic regression to estimate the odds of receiving weight advice by age and BMI categories.

Most firefighters (96 percent) reported visiting an HCP in the past year. Most (69 percent) firefighters and 48 percent of class I to III obese firefighters reported receiving no weight advice. Higher BMI predicted HCP advice to lose weight. Younger firefighters were less likely to receive weight loss advice than older firefighters, except among those who were class II or III obese.
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The study was published today in the Center for Disease Control's journal Preventing Chronic Disease. The primary author of the study is R. Sue Day, Ph.D. associate professor of epidemiology at the UTHealth School of Public Health. The full article is available at http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/14_0091.htm.

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

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