Health initiatives to target obesity in surface transport industries: Review and implications for action


Share / Export Citation / Email / Print / Text size:

Evidence Base

Australia and New Zealand School of Government

Subject: Management


eISSN: 1838-9422





Volume / Issue / page

Related articles

VOLUME 2015 , ISSUE 2 (June 2015) > List of articles

  • |

Health initiatives to target obesity in surface transport industries: Review and implications for action

Janine Chapman * / Anjum Naweed

Citation Information : Evidence Base. Volume 2015, Issue 2, Pages 1-20, DOI:

License : (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Published Online: 27-February-2017



Lifestyle-related chronic diseases pose a considerable burden to the individual and the wider society, with correspondingly negative effects on industry. Obesity is a particular problem for the Australasian road and rail industries where it is associated with specific cardiac and fatigue-related safety risks, and levels are higher than those found in the general population. Despite this recognition, and the introduction of National Standards, very little consensus exists regarding approaches to preventative health for surface transport workers. A review of evidence regarding effective health promotion initiatives is urgently needed to inform best practice in this cohort. This review draws together research informing the scope and effectiveness of health promotion programs, initiatives and interventions targeting overweight and obesity in safety critical surface transport domains including the truck, bus and rail industries. A number of health interventions demonstrated measurable successes, including incentivising, peer mentoring, verbal counselling, development of personalised health profiles, and offer of healthier on-site food choices – some of which also resulted in sizeable return on investment over the long term.

Content not available PDF Share



  1. Access Economics 2008. The Growing Cost of Obesity in 2008: three years on. Diabetes Australia. 
  2. Apostolopoulos, Y, Shattell, M, Sonmez, S and Strack, R 2012a. Active living in the trucking sector: environmental barriers and health promotion strategies, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 9(2): 259-69. 
  3. Apostolopoulos, Y, Sonmez, S, Shattell, M and Belzer, MH 2012b. Environmental determinants of obesity-associated morbidity risks for truckers, International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 5(2): 120-138. 
  4. Apostolopoulos, Y, Sonmez, S, Shattell, M, Haldeman, L, Strack, R and Jones, V 2011. Barriers to truck drivers’ healthy eating: environmental influences and health promotion strategies. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 26(2): 122-143. 
  5. Asian Development Bank 2012. Report of Asia’s Shift to Greener Transport Key to Global Sustainability - ADB Forum, viewed 9 November
  6. ATRI [American Transportation Research Institute] 2002. Gettin’ In Gear: A Wellness, Health, and Fitness Program for Commercial Drivers. Alexandria, VA. 
  7. Australasian Railway Association Inc 2008. A Rail Revolution - Future Capability Identification and Skills Development for the Australasian Rail Industry. Canberra. 
  8. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013. 4125.0 - Gender Indicators, viewed 15 January
  9. Bigelow, PL, Myers, AM, Crizzle, AM, Gooderham, S, Shubair, M, Thiffault, P, Stapleton, J, Cooke, M, Manske, S, Schonlau, M, Brayham, A and Sieber, K 2014. Health and wellness of commercial motor vehicle drivers in Canada: Literature review, discussion and directions for further research. Transport Canada. 
  10. Chung, YS, and Wong, JT 2011. Developing effective professional bus driver health programs: an investigation of self-rated health. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 43(6): 2093-2103. 
  11. Davis, L, Loyo, K, Glowka, A, Schwertfeger, R, Danielson, L, Brea, C, Easton, A and Griffin-Blake, S 2009. A comprehensive worksite wellness program in Austin, Texas: partnership between steps to a healthier Austin and Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Preventing Chronic Disease, 6(2): 60. 
  12. Escoto, KH and French, SA 2012. Unhealthy and healthy weight control behaviours among bus operators. Occupational Medicine, 62(2): 138-140. 
  13. FOE [Fight the Obesity Epidemic Charitable Trust] 2013. Stop our Children Developing Type 2 Diabetes, viewed 15 June
  14. French, SA, Hannan, PJ, Harnack, LJ, Mitchell, NR, Toomey, TL and Gerlach, AF 2010a. Pricing and availability intervention in vending machines at four bus garages. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52(1): 29-33. 
  15. French, SA, Harnack, LJ, Hannan, PJ, Mitchell, NR, Gerlach, AF and Toomey, TL 2010b. Worksite environment intervention to prevent obesity among metropolitan transit workers. Preventive Medicine, 50(4): 180-185. 
  16. French, SA, Harnack, LJ, Toomey, TL and Hannan, PJ 2007. Association between body weight, physical activity and food choices among metropolitan transit workers. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 4(52). 
  17. Gill, PE and Wijk, K 2004. Case study of a healthy eating intervention for Swedish lorry drivers. Health Education Research, 19(3): 306-315. 
  18. Gorczynski, P and Patel, H 2014. Quality of online physical activity information for long-haul truck drivers. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 7(1): 40-53. 
  19. Greene, BL, Miller, JD, Brown, TM, Harshman, RS, Richerson, GT and Doyle, JJ 2009. Economic impact of the BP downshift program on blood pressure control among commercial driver license employees. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 51(5): 542-553. 
  20. Hwang, GS, Choi, JW, Choi, SH, Lee, SG, Kim, KH, Cho, YM and Yoon, C 2012. Effects of a tailored health promotion program to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors among middle-aged and advanced-age bus drivers. Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health, 24(1): 117-127. 
  21. Krueger, GP, Brewster, RM, Dick, VR, Inderbitzen, RE and Staplin, L 2007. Commercial Truck and Bus Safety - Health and Wellness Programs for Commercial Drivers. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. 
  22. Latus 2013. Australia’s Ageing Long Haul Drivers, viewed June 15
  23. Mabry, JE, Hickman, J and Hanowski, R 2013. Case Study on Worksite Health and Wellness Program for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, Blacksburg, Virginia. 
  24. MacGregor, A 2009. Managing obesity. Occupational Health, 61(7): 44-46. 
  25. Mackie, H 2008. The Health And Fitness Of Log Truck Drivers: An Evaluation Of The Industry And Recommendations For Action. Transport Engineering Research, New Zealand Limited. 
  26. Marcinkiewicz, A and Szosland, D 2010. Selected risk factors of diabetes mellitus among road transport drivers. International Journal of Occupuational Medicine & Environmental Health, 23(1): 175–180. 
  27. Mcdonough, B, Howard, M, Angeles, R, Dolovich, L, Marzanek-Lefebvre, F, Riva, JJ and Laryea, S 2014. Lone workers attitudes towards their health: views of Ontario truck drivers and their managers. BMC Research Notes, 7297-304. 
  28. Meuleners, LB and Lee, AH 2008. Driving fitness, health profile and issues affecting heavy vehicle drivers: Opportunities for accident prevention. In: Smet, A. D. (ed.) Transportation Accident Analysis and Prevention, Nova Science Publishers, New York. 
  29. Mina, R and Casolin, A 2007. National standard for health assessment of rail safety workers: the first year. The Medical Journal of Australia, 187(7): 394-397. 
  30. Mina, R and Casolin, A 2012. The Australian National Standard for rail workers five years on. Occupational Medicine, 62(8): 642-647. 
  31. Naweed, A 2013. Psychological factors for driver distraction and inattention in the Australian and New Zealand rail industry. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 60: 193-204. 
  32. Naweed, A 2014. Investigations into the skills of modern and traditional train driving. Applied Ergonomics, 45(3): 462-470. 
  33. Ng, MK, Yousuf, B, Bigelow, PL and Van Eerd, D 2014. Effectiveness of health promotion programmes for truck drivers: a systematic review. Health Education Journal, 1-17. 
  34. NTC [National Transport Commission] 2012a. Assessing Fitness To Drive For Commercial And Private Vehicle Drivers. Austroads. 
  35. NTC [National Transport Commission] 2012b. National Standard for Health Assessment of Rail Safety Workers. Melbourne. 
  36. O’Rourke, J 2014. Australian Trucking Association appeals for government to make foreign drivers eligible for 457 visas to aid shortage, Sunday Telegraph, Sydney. 
  37. Obesity Australia 2014. Obesity: A National Epidemic and its Impact on Australia. Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd. 
  38. Obesity Working Group 2009. Australia: The Healthiest Country by 2020, Commonwealth Government of Australia, Canberra. 
  39. Olson, R, Anger, WK, Elliot, DL, Wipfli, B and Gray, M 2009. A new health promotion model for lone workers: results of the Safety & Health Involvement For Truckers (SHIFT) pilot study. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 51(11): 1233-1246. 
  40. Passey, DG, Robbins, R, Hegmann, KT, Ott, U and Thiese, M 2014. Long haul truck drivers’ views on the barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and physical activity. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 7(2): 121-135. 
  41. Puhkala, J, Kukkonen-Harjula, K, Mansikkamaki, K, Aittasalo, M and Hublin, C 2015. Lifestyle counseling to reduce body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors among truck and bus drivers - a randomized controlled trial. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 41(1): 54-64. 
  42. Rimal, RN 2000. Closing the knowledge-behavior gap in health promotion: the mediating role of self-efficacy. Health Communication, 12(3): 219-237. 
  43. Sieber, WK, Robinsons, CF, Birdsley, J, Chen, GX, Hitchcock, EM, Lincoln, JE, Nakata, A and Sweeney, MH 2014. Obesity and other risk factors: The national survey of US long-haul truck driver health and injury. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 57(1): 615-626. 
  44. Sorensen, G, Stoddard, A, Quintiliani, L, Ebbeling, C, Nagler, E, Yang, M, Pereira, L and Wallace, L 2010. Tobacco use cessation and weight management among motor freight workers: Results of the gear up for health study. Cancer Causes & Control, 21(12): 2113-2122. 
  45. Temelkova-Kurktschiev, T and Stefanov, T 2012. Lifestyle and genetics in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, 120(1): 1-6. 
  46. TLISC [Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council] 2012. 2012 Environmental Scan, Department of Industry Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, Melbourne. 
  47. TRB [Transport Research Board] 2012. Research on the Health and Wellness of Commercial Truck and Bus Drivers - Summary of an International Conference. Baltimore, Maryland. 
  48. Tucker, LA and Friedman, GM 1998. Obesity and absenteeism: an epidemiologic study of 10,825 employed adults. American Journal of Health Promotion, 12(3): 202-7. 
  49. Turner, LM and Reed, DB 2011. Exercise among commercial truck drivers. American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Journal, 59(10): 429-436. 
  50. Whitfield-Jacobson, PJ, Prawitz, AD and Lukaszuk, JM 2007. Long-haul truck drivers want healthful meal options at truck-stop restaurants. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107(12): 2125-2129. 
  51. Wipfli, B, Olson, R and Koren, M 2013. Weight loss maintenance among SHIFT pilot student participants 30-months post-intervention. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 55(1): 1-3. 
  52. Wong, JYL, Gilson, ND, Bush, RA and Brown, WJ 2014. Patterns and perceptions of physical activity and sedentary time in male transport drivers working in regional Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 38(4): 314-320. 
  53. Zavanela, PM, Crewther, BT, Lodo, L, Florindo, AA, Miyabara, EH and Aoki, MS 2012. Health and fitness benefits of a resistance training intervention performed in the workplace. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(3): 811-817.



  • |