World Health Day this year is focusing on the frightening increase in diabetes globally. Where do truck drivers stand in the occurrence of this potentially life-threatening disease?
Each year, on April 7th, the World Health Organization (WHO) sponsors World Health Day, and each year, there is a focus on a different health-related issue. Last year, the World Health Day was dedicated to the issue of food safety; this year, the focus is on diabetes. How bad is this scourge? According to WHO, more than 350 million people worldwide are suffering from diabetes, and that number is expected to double over the next two decades. Of those with diabetes, 90% suffer from the Type 2 version of the disease, which is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. And that means that, with proper diet and exercise, people can drastically reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
This World Health Day focus ties in with blogs we’ve posted over the past couple of years dealing with the health issues of long-haul truck drivers. We posted an infographic detailing the incidence of obesity (a leading cause of diabetes) in drivers: 7 in 10 are considered obese, according to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, a 2015 article in FleetOwner.com noted a 50% higher occurrence of diabetes in truck drivers than the national average.
This is alarming. Not just because of the danger it can cause to the driver’s health; it’s also the effect it can have on his job. Drivers diagnosed with diabetes can apply for a medical waiver with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that permits them to continue to drive as long as they meet specific criteria, including an evaluation by an endocrinologist and either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. This is because diabetes can lead to peripheral neuropathy, a loss of feeling in the hands and feet, as well as retinopathy, which is a leaking in the eye. Drivers must have quarterly and annual medical exams after a waiver is granted and can still lose their job if conditions worsen.
This is why it is so important for drivers to manage their diet and exercise as much as possible. For long-haul drivers, that’s no easy task, but it’s one that their very livelihoods may depend upon.
Check out the facts at World Health Day.