Cross-sectional surveillance study to phenotype lorry drivers' sedentary behaviours, physical activity and cardio-metabolic health

Veronica Varela-Mato*, Orlagh O'Shea, James A. King, Thomas Yates, David J. Stensel, Stuart Jh Biddle, Myra A. Nimmo, Stacy A. Clemes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Elevated risk factors for a number of chronic diseases have been identified in lorry drivers. Unhealthy lifestyle behaviours such as a lack of physical activity (PA) and high levels of sedentary behaviour (sitting) likely contribute to this elevated risk. This study behaviourally phenotyped UK lorry drivers' sedentary and non-sedentary behaviours during workdays and non-workdays and examined markers of drivers cardio-metabolic health. Setting A transport company from the East Midlands, UK. Participants A sample of 159 Male heavy goods vehicle drivers (91% white European; (median (range)) age: 50 (24, 67) years) completed the health assessments. 87 (age: 50.0 (25.0, 65.0); body mass index (BMI): 27.7 (19.6, 43.4) kg/m 2) provided objective information on sedentary and non-sedentary time. Outcomes Participants self-reported their sociodemographic information. Primary outcomes: sedentary behaviour and PA, assessed over 7 days using an activPAL3 inclinometer. Cardio-metabolic markers included: blood pressure (BP), heart rate, waist circumference (WC), hip circumference, body composition and fasted capillary blood glucose, triglycerides, high-density lipopreotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and total cholesterol (TC) levels. These cardio-metabolic markers were treated as secondary outcomes. Results Lorry drivers presented an unhealthy cardio-metabolic health profile (median (IQR) systolic BP: 129 (108.5, 164) mm Hg; diastolic BP: 81 (63, 104) mm Hg; BMI: 29 (20, 47) kg/m 2; WC: 102 (77.5, 146.5) cm; LDL-C: 3 (1, 6) mmol/L; TC: 4.9 (3, 7.5) mmol/L). 84% were overweight or obese, 43% had type 2 diabetes or prediabetes and 34% had the metabolic syndrome. The subsample of lorry drivers with objective postural data (n=87) accumulated 13 hours/day and 8 hours/day of sedentary behaviour on workdays and non-workdays (p<0.001), respectively. On average, drivers accrued 12 min/day on workdays and 6 min/day on non-workdays of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA). Conclusion Lorry drivers demonstrate a high-risk cardio-metabolic profile and are highly sedentary and physically inactive. Interventions to reduce sitting and increase MVPA during breaks and leisure time to improve cardio-metabolic health are urgently needed. Educational programmes to raise awareness about diet and exercise are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere013162
JournalBMJ open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun 1
Externally publishedYes


  • cardio-metabolic health
  • lorry drivers
  • occupational health
  • physical activity
  • sedentary behaviours

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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