Approximately 9 in 10 trucking company employees — not just drivers — are overweight or obese, according to a 2007 American Dietetic Assn. study. To address the problem, the Truckload Carriers Assn. has launched a Trucking Weight Loss Showdown that is open to TCA’s for-hire carrier members. The 10-week competition will introduce participating fleet employees to healthier lifestyle choices. Applications for the Showdown’s 1st North American Battle will be accepted through Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011.
TCA partnered with Lindora Clinic, providers of America’s leading medically based weight-loss/management wellness program, to create the weight-loss challenge specifically aimed at professional truck drivers and other workers within the trucking industry. Prizes will be awarded to the fleet and individual achieving the greatest percentages of weight loss.
“When we first heard the startling statistics around driver health, we knew we needed to get involved immediately. The trucking industry plays a vital part in our national economy. Unfortunately, the challenges they experience have created an industry health problem that has implications for all of us. [That’s why] we are very excited to partner with the TCA to make a difference in the health of drivers,” said Cynthia Graff, executive chairman, Lindora Clinic.
During a TCA planning meeting last fall, officers of the association were asked what type of programs TCA should be endorsing. Robert Low, president and founder of Prime, Inc., in Springfield, MO, and TCA’s second vice chair at the time, stated: “We should do something to extend the life expectancy of the long-haul truck driver beyond 62 years of age.”
“It was so simple, yet brilliant,” said Gary Salisbury, TCA’s chairman and the president & CEO of Fikes Truck Line, Inc., of Hope, Ark. “Fit people experience fewer health problems, so they’re happier at home as well as on the job. Healthy employees can work longer and earn more money, so we hope that they’ll stick with trucking all the way to retirement. I left that officer meeting inspired and hopeful that TCA could figure out a way to improve the health of our most precious asset, our people.”
Just a few months later, an opportunity presented itself in the form of the Lindora Clinic. It turns out that the company has worked with a team from the Las Vegas division of TCA member Knight Transportation. The team — comprising both drivers and office staff — did well on the intense, medically based 10-week Lean for Life On-the-Road program that stresses a low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein, low-fat diet, exercise, nutrition education and lifestyle changes. Participants were pleased by the support and guidance they received from the Lindora nurses, who called weekly to boost morale, discuss obstacles, and record their weight-loss.
Drivers who once felt it impossible to lose weight due to the sedentary nature of their jobs commented that they now felt empowered to take control of their bodies and change their lifestyles — permanently, according to Kevin Knight, chairman & CEO of Knight Transportation.
“What our team found so appealing about Lindora is how quickly they learned about – and were able to adapt their program to – the lifestyle of truckers,” Knight said. “We have unique challenges that other weight-loss programs simply don’t account for. A driver might be in a remote part of the country with no access to a grocery store, no gym and a tiny refrigerator that is too small to hold much specialty food. He spends many hours at the wheel, for extended periods of time, with little physical activity. This is not your typical weight-loss situation. Lindora’s program helps truckers face their obstacles so they can finally be successful at improving their health.”
The timeline for the “Trucker Weight Loss Showdown” is as follows:
• The application deadline is Nov. 30, 2011.
• By Jan. 1, 2012, TCA will announce the five fleets that have been selected to compete in the competition.
• The participants will begin the program on Jan. 24, 2012.
• The participants will be introduced to the public and their progress will be announced at TCA’s Annual Convention, to be held March 4-7, 2012, at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Fla.
• In May 2012, at TCA’s Safety & Security Division Annual Meeting, the winners — both fleet and individual — will be announced.
Carriers participating in the “Trucker Weight Loss Showdown” will receive a 25% discount on Lindora’s weight loss support services, which include weekly one-on-one personalized nurse sessions, the “Learn-on-the-Road” CD library, copies of the company’s Lean for Life Phase One: Weight Loss book, food journals, some food supplements, and extensive online support tools. In addition, Lindora has agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds to a charity of TCA’s choice.
“I have high hopes for this ‘Trucker Weight Loss Showdown’ as a launching point for much positive change within our industry,” said Salisbury, who began his trucking career as a driver and understands the lifestyle. “This is the right thing to do for our people, and it might even help to alter our image. As truckers slim down and become healthy role models for others, we can change the way people perceive trucking.”