Education key to getting truckies to eat healthy

Health officer says study of truck drivers shows education is needed to get them to switch to healthier food

Education key to getting truckies to eat healthy
Education key to getting truckies to eat healthy

Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | June 27, 2012

A study of more than 200 drivers at truck stops across Australia shows greater education is vital to getting them to switch to healthier food, a conference has been told.

A free health screen study conducted by BP Australia last August at truck stops across the country shows 41 percent of the 206 drivers that participated were smokers, with 38 percent of them found to have high blood pressure.

Nearly 20 percent of them showed high cholesterol levels and three percent tested positive to glucose. Forty-two percent of those tested were advised to seek further medical advice.

BP corporate health officer Helen Harrod, who addressed the Transport Women Australia annual conference last weekend, says younger drivers need to be better educated about health in order for the culture to change.

"One of the things we have learnt from this health screening is that we need to put some education into the younger people in the industry because by talking to different drivers at truck stops the younger guys were the ones that were more aware of health risks," Harrod says.

"They have got young children and they still want to be able to be active with their children and do different things, so they notice it if they drive for a couple of years and put on a few kilos.

"I think that there are small things that can be done. One guy told me that every time he gets out of his truck he walks around the truck 10 times."

Eating habits also need to be targeted as fried dim sims, pies and bacon rolls were top sellers at truck stops, Harrod says.

Salads were the least favourite on the menu and most drivers still complain about the choice of meals at stops, she adds.

"The most consistent feedback I get when I go to events or trade shows is that people aren’t happy with food.

"They complain when you try and make it a little healthier. It’s really difficult as a company to get the right balance."

Despite 1,200 drivers being notified about the health checks, only a minority put their hand up for a test, Harrod says.

"I actually thought it was disappointing to have that number," she says.

"Once encouraged to participate, those drivers would go along but previously they would sit there and if you hadn’t gone and asked them to participate they wouldn’t have done it.
"That’s a real challenge. How can we engage this target audience and try and make them look after their health a bit better?"

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