Physician weight recommendations for overweight and obese firefighters, United States, 2011-2012

Michelle Lynn Wilkinson, Austin Lane Brown, Walker Seward Carlos Poston, Christopher Keith Haddock, Sara Anne Jahnke, Rena Sue Day
Preventing Chronic Disease 2014 July 10, 11: E116

INTRODUCTION: 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.

METHODS: We used data on self-reported HCP weight recommendations and measured BMI from a 2011-2012 national sample of male firefighters (N = 1,002). HCP recommendations were recorded as no advice, maintain, gain, or lose weight, and BMI was categorized as normal (<25.0 kg/m(2)), overweight (25.0-29.9 kg/m(2)), class I obese (30.0-34.9 kg/m(2)), and class II or III obese (≥35.0 kg/m(2)). We used multinomial logistic regression to estimate the odds of receiving weight advice by age and BMI categories.

RESULTS: Most firefighters (96%) reported visiting an HCP in the past year. Most (69%) firefighters and 48% of class I to III obese firefighters reported receiving no weight advice. Higher BMI predicted HCP advice to lose weight (odds ratio class I obese vs normal weight: 12.98; 95% confidence interval: 5.38-31.34). Younger firefighters were less likely to receive weight loss advice than older firefighters, except among those who were class II or III obese.

CONCLUSIONS: HCPs are important sources of health information for firefighters. Overweight and obese firefighters, particularly those who are younger, do not consistently receive HCP advice to lose weight. This marks a missed opportunity to prevent further weight gain and reduce obesity-related health outcomes.

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