Can You Guess Which Profession Has the Most Obese Workers?

New information from the CDC lists the occupations linked to the highest rates of obesity

Researchers have concluded that obese people have similar careers…or at least people in Washington state, where the study took place.

Medical experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed 37,626 employees during the odd numbered years between 2003 and 2009. “Obesity prevalence” was determined by demographics, occupational physical activity level, smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption, and leisure-time physical activity. The purpose of this study, according to the abstract, is to “estimate the prevalence of and risk factors for worker obesity by occupation" and inform the "prioritization of workplace wellness programs.”

Among the 28 occupational groups (which excluded military or extraction occupations, such as construction), they found that truck driving, as well as transportation and material moving, protective services, and cleaning and building services employees were at highest risk for suffering from obesity.

There were some hiccups in the study. For one, “BMI measures cannot distinguish between fat and lean tissue mass; workers with physically demanding jobs (i.e. movers) may be more physically fit and have a higher BMI because of increased muscle mass," the researchers admitted in the study, as reported by the Huffington Post

A few more notable study findings:

  • The overall prevalence of obesity for all workers was 24.6 percent, ranging from 11.6 percent for health diagnosing occupations (i.e. physicians, dentists, veterinarians, optometrists, and health diagnosing practitioners) to 38.6 percent for truck drivers.
  • Employed smokers had lower obesity prevalence than employed nonsmokers. And the proportion of current smokers was highest for truck drivers and lowest for health occupations…excluding registered nurses. 

Does this mean you’re doomed to deal with pound problems because of your career? Absolutely not. This data simply illustrates a correlation between work and weight, and its purpose is to encourage workplace health intervention programs in order to improve worker productivity while lowering absenteeism and health care costs.

Being proactive about your health and wellness…well, that’s your “real” job.

The ranking of obesity prevalence, from most to least, based on occupational group, is as follows:

1. Truck drivers - 38.6 percent

2. Transportation and material moving - 37.9 percent

3. Protective services - 33.3 percent

4. Cleaning and building services - 29.5 percent

5. Health services - 28.8 percent

6. Mechanics and repairers - 28.9 percent

7. Administrative support - 27.9 percent

8. Personal services - 27.2 percent

9. Technicians (plus related support) - 26.6 percent

10. Precision production and plant operators - 26.1 percent

11. Sales 25.4 percent

12. Management-related - 25.1 percent

13. Executive, administrative and managerial - 24.4 percent

14. Machine operators, assemblers and inspectors - 23.9 percent

15. Registered nurses - 22.6 percent

16. Farming, forestry and fishing - 22.3 percent

17. Teachers (not including postsecondary education) - 21.8 percent

18. Helpers, equipment cleaners and laborers - 21.9 percent

19. Math and computer scientists - 21.8 percent

20. Lawyers and judges - 21.7 percent

21. Engineers, architects and surveyors - 20.2 percent

22. Food preparation and service - 20.1 percent

23. Construction - 19.9 percent

24. Other professional specialties - 19.7 percent

25. Health assessment and treating (not including registered nurses) - 18.2 percent

26. Postsecondary teachers -17.6 percent

27. Natural and social scientists - 17.3 percent

28. Health-diagnosing occupations - 11.6 percent

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