-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Long-haul truck drivers in
the United States have adapted to increasing demands for efficiency
and speed in getting shipments from one point to another, but in
doing so they've had to push their bodies to the limit, sacrificing
sleep and a healthy diet, according to a new study.
Benjamin Snyder, a graduate sociology student at the University
of Virginia, spent three years interviewing long-haul truck drivers
and other American workers for his dissertation. His conclusion:
The job requires a difficult balancing act.
"The drivers have higher rates of everything associated with obesity," said Snyder. "They have bad knees, shoulders, backs. I can spot a truck driver by how he walks. Most of them have a hunched-over, slow walk. They have a lot of chronic health issues."
The study's findings were scheduled for presentation Tuesday at
the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New
American companies looking to streamline business operations
want to be more efficient and flexible in how they move freight,
Snyder said. And clients and consumers have come to expect speedy
delivery of their long-distance purchases and online orders. As a
result, Snyder found truck drivers in the United States have been
forced to meet these increased demands.
One way drivers have adapted is by gaining insight into the
rhythms of their bodies and learning how to manipulate their
sleeping patterns, Snyder said. Some may take caffeine pills or
shower often at rest stops to stay alert. Some realize they get an
energy boost from the rising sun.
Despite these tactics, the demands of the job have taken a toll
on long-haul truck drivers. Many drivers have developed poor eating
habits, often consuming fatty foods. Snyder said healthy food
options are more difficult to come by at truck stops.
In an attempt to eat a healthier diet, some truck drivers have
resorted to packing their own food for their trips or buying
healthy foods while delivering to markets. Since they are
constantly pressed for time, however, these options are not always
Being a long-haul truck driver becomes a balancing act, Snyder
said. On one hand, drivers need to stay on schedule. On the other
hand, they battle fatigue, traffic, poor driving conditions and
Snyder said his research has helped him appreciate the
mechanisms involved in moving goods from one point to another. "If
I am shopping online, I know now that when I click that 'ship'
button, I am putting into motion a whole system of people whose job
is to get it there fast," Snyder said. "They are working in ways
that are unhealthy to them so I can get things fast."
Data and conclusions presented at meetings typically are
considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides more
information on the health effects of
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