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Should Body Mass Index Be Enforced In The Trucking Industry?

There is always a healthy debate that ensues when people begin considering whether or not new laws should be enforced in the trucking industry. But the debate tends to take on a more robust tone, and sometimes becomes borderline riotous, when the idea of enforcing personal lifestyle choices on drivers becomes the topic of debate. There are a number of trucking companies that have begun to enforce weight restrictions as a hiring criteria in recent years and I believe we’re going to hear a lot more about this in years to come, especially if the economy remains below par and the standard requirements for truck driving jobs remains higher than it has been in the past. The question is, should body mass index be allowed to be a criteria for hiring?

What Is Body Mass Index?

According to the Nutritiondata glossary:

“Body Mass Index is a standardized ratio of weight to height, and is often used as a general indicator of health. Your BMI can be calculated by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in meters). A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal for most adults. Higher BMIs may indicate that an individual is overweight or obese”

In basic terms, it’s an approximation of how much you should weigh based on your height.

Why Would Trucking Companies Enforce This?

Trucking companies are generally looking to find qualified drivers that strike a balance between safety and cost. In other words, they’re not willing to pay a safe, experienced driver tons and tons of money, but they also can’t afford to put drivers out on the highway that have proven to be unsafe just to save a buck on payroll. Profit margins are very tight in the trucking industry and the reality is you have to find a way to turn a profit. Unfortunately, some level of compromise is necessary to achieve this.

A driver’s ability to make safe and responsible decisions is absolutely paramount in the trucking industry and companies are always trying to find new ways of determining whether or not they can trust someone to make the right decisions when they’re out on the road. Checking a person’s credit score is one way in recent years that companies have tried to determine the character of an individual.

Body mass index is becoming another way for trucking companies to attempt to judge the character of a driver, try to reduce their costs, and increase their efficiency. Generally speaking, and this is where people are going to freak; they’ve determined that people who are quite obese do not have the self-discipline, attention to detail, ability to make prudent decisions, or energy level that someone who takes better care of themselves would have. The image they portray of their company and the higher costs of healthcare associated with their level of fitness is also a detriment to the company.

Is Enforcing Body Mass Index Limits Discrimination?

First, the definition of discrimination from Wikipedia:

“Discrimination toward or against a person of a certain group is the treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit”

This is one of the arguments people will make against enforcing such rules. They say you can’t discriminate based on sex or race, so you shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on somebody’s weight. I would agree with this assertion if a person being significantly overweight:

  • Had no effect on the ability for them to perform their job as well as someone who is in good shape
  • Posed no additional risk to those around them when compared with someone who is in good shape
  • Posed no additional costs upon their company compared with someone who is in good shape

I think you’ll find it quite difficult, or nearly impossible, to make those arguments stick – the evidence clearly points to the contrary.

I would also argue that if people believe being morbidly obese is a personal choice and they should have the ability to make that choice for themselves, then why wouldn’t a trucking company be given the equal right to hire the people they believe will give them the best chance for success? If a company can prove that hiring drivers who are morbidly obese will negatively impact the company, they should have the right to refuse hiring that person based on that factor alone. It has not been proven that an employee’s race or sex will have a negative impact on a company or on an employee’s performance of the job, therefore neither are allowed to be a hiring criteria.

How Heavy Is Too Heavy?

Make no mistake about it, companies are not talking about forcing everyone to become lean and mean. Not even close. They’re basically talking about eliminating those that most would consider “morbidly obese”. In other words, we’re not talking about an extra forty or fifty pounds, were generally talking more like an extra hundred pounds or so.

A current example would be from Prime Inc where the maximum BMI is 39, which means someone who is 5′ 7″ can weigh up to 250 pounds. The “ideal weight” they list for 5′ 7″ is about 150 pounds.

Should The FMCSA Be Allowed To Enforce BMI Standards?

As you can see, I clearly believe that body mass index should indeed be allowed to be a factor in whether or not a company chooses to hire an individual. The question for me now becomes “Should the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier’s Safety Administration) or other government agency be allowed to enforce body mass index standards on the entire trucking industry?”

In my opinion the government should not be the one to enforce these standards on the industry. I feel the companies should be allowed to enforce their own standards on this issue as they see fit. The main reason I feel this way is because the trucking industry is incredibly dynamic. Small changes to the economy can have a massive effect on how many drivers are available for hire. A strong, fast economy can cause a tremendous shortage of drivers, and a big downturn like the one we’re facing now can cause a large surplus of drivers in the industry.

Not only are there large swings in driver availability based on the economy in general, but the ever-changing circumstances within each company can create a large demand for new drivers, or the need to sharply decrease the size of the fleet by letting some drivers go. Swings in the economy, changes by a competing company, the gain or loss of customers, an economic crisis within a company, and a whole range of other factors can have a large effect on the driver requirements within any individual company.

I feel trucking companies are held responsible for their safety by FMCSA enforcement, including the new CSA 2010 Program getting ready to take effect, local law enforcement authorities, and our judicial system. Trucking companies need to retain the flexibility needed to employ higher hiring standards when they have a surplus of drivers available, and lower their standards a bit when a sudden need for drivers arises.

We Want Your Opinion

So how do you feel about it? Should body mass index be allowed as a criteria for hiring within the trucking industry, and should the Federal Government be the one to impose standards, or should trucking companies impose their own standards as they see fit? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think!

Comments

49 Comments

  1. americantrucker01 says:

    yes i have students cant fit btw so how can they drive.

  2. Ed5140 says:

    I don't think it should be allowed my self. I checked mines online and i would have to loose about 70 pounds according to what is considered normal BMI.
    I'm 5'7" 220. I can still bend over touch my toes with no problem. If BMI comes in to play i see a lot of pepole out of luck when it comes to getting a job.

    • baquila says:

      Thanks Ed for the input. Keep in mind though that no company would require you to be anywhere near "lean and mean". Even at 5' 7" 220 you'd probably be well within most company's limits even though you're 70 pounds above what is considered "ideal". Now I'm 5' 7" 165 and I'm built pretty well. I'd ideally like to be about 157-160 and that would make me lean and mean. I'd have to dehydrate myself to get down to 150. That would be too light for someone my height with an "athletic build". My weight puts me in the "overweight" category but I couldn't get to 150 with my build and be healthy.

      For guys our height they would likely be looking to put the limit somewhere around 240 I'd say. I know Prime Trucking has a BMI limit of 39 – which means at our height you could weigh a maximum of 250 pounds – so you're safely within range. As you can imagine, if you were to put on another 30 pounds from where you're at now…..that would really be a huge difference.

    • Joshua says:

      That's exactly the problem with BMI, it does not consider that muscle mass is heavier than fat mass. So a person with say a body fat % of 9-14 (very Lean) will score obese on BMI which only considers overall weight vs height…..

      • baquila says:

        Yes, that's true. I have an athletic build and I'm reasonably strong. I'm at a healthy weight but I'm considered about 10 pounds above what the BMI would call "ideal". I'm also assuming that the BMI calculations are a compromise between men and women because I've never seen anything regarding separating the two for calculations. But with regard to enforcement in the trucking industry, these factors will never be a concern because they're not expecting anyone to be anywhere near the ideal weight. The figures are very, very tolerant and if you were strong enough to be 5' 7" and weigh over 250 pounds while having a low body fat percentage you would make Arnold Schwarzenegger look like a scrawny nerd.

  3. Becky says:

    The big question for me is: will the CSA 2010 require a BMI within certain limits? I keep hearing rumors about this, but have seen no 'official' documentation of these regulations on a federal level. I can understand companies setting restrictions on BMI, for health insurance reasons but IDK if I like gov. saying anything about it. A good driver can be 165#, or 350# and still be a good driver. . . what are the CSA requirements?? Are there any? this is confusing!

    • baquila says:

      Hi Becky. That's a great question.

      At this point there is no indication that CSA 2010 will contain anything regarding BMI restrictions, or involve setting health regulations of any sort. CSA 2010 will be specifically aimed at keeping track of the safety performance of both truck drivers and trucking companies. They will indeed be tracking failed drug and alcohol tests by drivers and the failure to issue proper testing procedures by companies, but there will not be any actual medical standards set within CSA 2010.

      There is also no indication at this point that the government intends to issue any sort of BMI standards or regulations upon the trucking industry. At this point the trucking companies themselves have the liberty of setting their own standards and changing them at any time, but the government is not getting involved in this process at the moment. As with most regulations imposed on drivers, it is quite likely that the insurance companies are the ones encouraging trucking companies to explore setting BMI requirements for their drivers.

  4. Rick Huffman says:

    Even if this comes into play, I seriously doubt that any trucking company will require their drivers to be as fit as an athlete. I would think that it applies to the drivers who, literally, have belly fat hanging down to their knees and can barely squeeze their big paunch behind the steering wheel. There are plenty of drivers out there who fit that description. When obesity reaches the ridiculous proportions that it has with some drivers, it starts being less an issue of discrimination, and more of an issue of safety and presenting a positive image on the part of a company.

    • baquila says:

      Great points, Rick. I agree 100%. I think the intent of trucking companies that are going to enforce these standards are exactly as you say – to target only the guys and gals at the extreme top of the weight scale. It's just way, way too dangerous to have 80.000 pounds rolling down the highway with someone behind the wheel whose health is extremely uncertain. They won't let people drive who need insulin shots or have Epilepsy for the exact same reason – it's just too risky. And if UPS or FedEx can say you aren't allowed to work there with long hair because it's bad for the company's image then image alone must be legal grounds for a BMI policy.

  5. Chuck says:

    No way should BMI be used as a hiring determination. That would definitely be discriminating. Companies should only be using criteria to ensure the candidate can safely get the job done. Something along the lines of; Is the candidate able to lift X pounds? Is the candidate agile enough to perform a safety check? Is the candidate able to fit behind the wheel and reach all the controls? … etc. Aren’t those requirements part of obtaining a license to start with?

    Anyway, obese individuals already face an uphill battle when trying to get employment. I remember seeing a couple of documentaries in college, or on 60 Minutes, or somewhere, that had these themes; Send two candidates for a job interview that have the same qualifications, only one will be attractive and one will not. Most of the actors they used for the not attractive part were overweight. Guess which ones got the job? The other theme was to place an individual next to a broken down car on the road side. They would use an attractive woman one time and a not so attractive woman another time. Guess which one got the most help? Yep, in both scenarios, the more attractive person got the job or help the majority of the time. While this is more sublime discrimination, it does point out that obese people have a difficult time getting a level playing field. I vote to not pile on a BMI requirement as well.

    - Chuck -

    • baquila says:

      Thanks Chuck. No question that good looking people get treated better than not-so-good looking people. I don't think anyone would argue with that. And obese individuals do indeed face an uphill battle in life – with everything they do. But you accidentally defeated your own argument when you said (correctly I may add):

      Companies should only be using criteria to ensure the candidate can safely get the job done

      I agree. But being very obese is a safety hazard and does prevent them from doing all of the duties of their job safely. What if they have to help load or unload? What if they're down on the ground and have to climb up into the back of their trailer to secure their load? What about the risk of them having a heart attack while driving down the road? What about the extra healthcare costs to the company? I'm going to add the definition of discrimination above because several people have agreed with you that this would be discrimination, but by definition it is not. There is a solid financial reason for using BMI as a criteria.

    • A FL. trucker says:

      I was turned down by Western Express Friday, b/c I'm 6'4 and 340. I was turned down on the phone and told it would be a DOT regulation in 2010.

      • baquila says:

        It's possible that it could become a DOT regulation at some point, but I'm not sure if that's something they'll get through as soon as this year (2010). I haven't heard any mention of it becoming an official government regulation at this point, and you know how long it takes for the government to get bills and regulations pushed through.

  6. baquila says:

    Hey Chuck – you make some excellent points. I didn't see the show you're referring to on 60 Minutes but I'm sure there's likely several factors that apparently lead to low heart disease in Italy – I can't debate that. But to try to make the argument that highly obese people are not more likely to have health issues that could lead to higher healthcare costs for their company and a higher risk of loss of control at the wheel due to a heart attack or passing out would be quite the impossible mission. To say that "the heart attack argument is just not fair" I can't agree with. It is fair because it's based on medical studies, not prejudice or opinion.

    As far as people who can not load or unload but are under the BMI – they do indeed get turned away by companies that require you to be able to do these things – as they should.

    And as far as individuals who are not really overweight but smoke, drink, and eat poorly – you're absolutely right – many of them do indeed pose a risk and we've all heard of thin, 45 year old men dying of a sudden heart attack. Being fat is far from the only health concerns for sure and I would run with this point by saying I feel the DOT physical should be more strict than it is in a lot of areas.

    I'd like to point out that companies are also using metrics like BMI in hopes of finding safer drivers, drivers who are more responsible and trustworthy, and eliminate as much as possible the glaring problems that could lead to a company facing heavy lawsuits when there's an accident. You also have the idea that a company's image does indeed matter, and being 5' 7" and weighing 270 pounds does not portray the image of a responsible, hard-working person who pays attention to detail, takes pride in themselves and their work, and are serious about success. All of these factors matter to a company.

    Certainly you're right – there will almost always be at least some exceptions to every rule. But you have to set standards, you must put safety first, and these companies are doing their best to screen drivers that give them the best shot at success. They're hoping to find drivers that are most likely going to take care of the company's image, customers, and equipment; and to safely share the road with the families around them day in and day out.

    • Chuck says:

      Brett,

      I understand where you’re coming from and probably won’t sway you, so I’ll try and make this my last post and we can agree to disagree.
      I think using a BMI is a slippery slope and this statement you made really scares me;
      “I'd like to point out that companies are also using metrics like BMI in hopes of finding safer drivers, drivers who are more responsible and trustworthy, and eliminate as much as possible the glaring problems that could lead to a company facing heavy lawsuits when there's an accident. You also have the idea that a company's image does indeed matter, and being 5' 7" and weighing 270 pounds does not portray the image of a responsible, hard-working person who pays attention to detail, takes pride in themselves and their work, and are serious about success.”

      Wow! Are you really saying companies believe that because someone is 5’7”, 220lbs, they are not hard workers, not safe and not serious about success? I can’t think of any statement more discriminatory than that one. I hope I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying.
      Every company wants to hire, smart, safe, hard working, motivated people. My point is you don’t, and shouldn’t, use BMI to find those people. There will be certain requirements for any job. You either meet them, or you don’t. If it’s a requirement that you have to be able to crawl under a truck and check brakes, have the person demonstrate that the can do it. If it’s a requirement that someone has to climb up on a truck and secure a load, then have them demonstrate they can do it. If it’s a requirement that a driver log X miles a week, and they’re logging X -Y, then you have a talk with them, put them on a Performance Improvement Plan and let them go if they can’t meet it. Just make sure the requirement is the same for all drivers. If it’s a requirement that someone be away from home for two weeks and they say they can’t because they need a blood transfusion once a week, then you don’t hire them. I know that last one is a little absurd, but you get the idea. Now, all that being said, maybe you find a trend where people with a high BMI have a hard time meeting those requirements, maybe you don’t. However, your measurement was objective and fair. All employees and candidates are held to the same standards and there is no prejudice that a person was fired, or not hired, because they were fat. It was simply a matter if they could do the job, or not.

      I like your Trucking Truth site and what you’re trying do with. Keep up the good work!!!

      - Chuck -

      • baquila says:

        Thanks Chuck – I'm glad you enjoy the site and I'm enjoying the discussion. You said:

        "Wow! Are you really saying companies believe that because someone is 5’7”, 270lbs, they are not hard workers, not safe and not serious about success?"

        Do you feel that someone who allows themselves to be dangerously overweight and does not even take the responsibility of taking care of themselves seriously will be serious about taking great care of their company, their truck, a company's customers, and most importantly the minivans full of children that surround them everyday on the highways? If they don't even care that they're putting themselves at high risk of dying way too young, and don't care about the suffering that their premature death would bring to their family, friends, and loved ones, do they really care about the risk they're putting the strangers in minivans around them in? The answers may somehow, against all reasoning, be yes. But if you're the owner of a trucking company, you know that getting sued for one bad accident caused by someone who can be shown to be a high-risk driver could be the end of your company. So you're looking for the most responsible drivers you can find. Does someone who is 5' 7" 270 pounds strike you as someone who is acting responsibly?

        If you got a call tomorrow that several of your family members were killed when a very obese driver had a heart attack at the wheel and lost control, what would be your first thought? Everyone's first thought would be "Why was a person in such a high risk category allowed behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound vehicle on public highways? If that person was healthy I would still have my family, but now countless lives are forever ruined. Who is responsible for this?" Would you like to deny this and say your first thought would be "Well, my life and the lives of my family members are ruined now but at least that guy was given a fair chance to drive a truck?" Please! And we all know who the target becomes – the trucking company that hired that person. Therefore, trucking companies have to protect themselves and the general public as best they can.

        People who are highly diabetic and need insulin shots, and people who have Epilepsy, are not allowed behind the wheel of a truck by law for the very same reason – it's just too risky. You can't take that chance with an 80,000 pound truck and the lives of so many people at stake. Why don't I hear one single person crying "discrimination" for those people? People with terrible driving records or bad criminal histories are not allowed behind the wheel of a truck because they have proven themselves to be irresponsible. Why no cries of "discrimination" for those people? I'll tell you why – because they're too much of a risk and everyone understands that.

        If someone who is morbidly obese wants to be given the responsibility for protecting the lives of the strangers around them on the highway, they should first show they're at least willing and able to take responsibility for protecting their own lives and the lives of their own families, friends, and loved ones.

        • Chuck says:

          Brett,

          I know I said my last post was going to be the last on this subject, but I guess I lied. Sorry about that. Let me also apologize if it appears I’m beating a dead horse on my points.

          I appreciate the fact that you want the healthiest person possible behind the wheel of a truck. I would even take it one step farther and say I would like to see ALL persons, regardless of their occupation, be as healthy as possible. I’ll even agree that if you’re a 5’7” 270 lbs. person, you will probably be healthier if you lost a little weight.

          However, the minute you start stating that a 5’7” 270 lbs person is not serious about taking care of a company, you are discriminating. You might see that person that doesn’t care about him/herself, so won’t care about the company. Someone else might see that person as someone who puts everyone’s else’s interests, especially the company’s, above themselves.
          We talked about his earlier, but a high BMI is not a guarantee you’ll have a heart attack. You just can’t make a blanket statement that someone with X BMI is going to die behind the wheel of a truck. If you start down that path, where do you stop? What about the people who have a fantastic BMI, but a high history of heart disease in their family? Do you let that person behind the wheel of a truck? Also, medical studies are ongoing. I just recently heard that doctors are now recommending you eat eggs, when just a few years ago they were saying eggs are bad for you. Maybe the trucker with a high BMI only eats whole wheat pasta, olive oil and red wine, just more calories than he burns. Maybe that trucker has a cholesterol level that would make a marathon runner envious. Maybe that trucker has a very low risk of heart disease.

          I was thinking about this last night. You want to higher safe, motivated, hard working, dedicated truck drivers and I’m on board with that. I contend that if you took the top 10 things a truck driver must do to be safe, motivated, hard working and dedicated, you wouldn’t need to use BMI to find that candidate. I’m willing to bet that there are other, non discriminating, ways to screen for those candidates. I won’t argue that once you put that list out that a lot of people with a high BMI won’t meet it, but that would be O.K., because your criteria was objective and not based on a generalization.
          Thanks for listening and let me post!

          - Chuck -

        • baquila says:

          Hey Chuck. I certainly appreciate the discussion. But I must say that as surprised as you are that I've made some of the statements I've made, you saying:

          I’ll even agree that if you’re a 5’7” 270 lbs. person, you will probably be healthier if you lost a little weight.

          …tells me that you're not ready to face the reality of how seriously dangerous being morbidly obese is. You're kidding yourself I'm afraid. And this statement:

          Someone else might see that person as someone who puts everyone’s else’s interests, especially the company’s, above themselves.

          …I've heard before. It's incredibly noble-sounding – "I'm not totally irresponsible and completely lacking of any self-discipline whatsoever. I'm actually just so loving and giving towards others that I have no time for myself. I'm a martyr." ….and that's completely and totally false and once again reeks of denial. The reality is that being 100+ pounds overweight is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible whether you choose to believe that or not. And you (and everyone else) have continuously avoided my questions about discriminating against Diabetics and Epileptics. We'll just have to agree to disagree and I have no problem with that.

  7. ZBrat says:

    I am distressed with the news that my BMI index can possibly end my 15 year career.

    I am a female, 5ft 4in. I am VERY voluptuous, I have fleshy hips. I carry considerably more muscle on my back, and thighs than most people.

    I have NEVER fit into the BMI standards.

    How will I not be descriminated against ???

    Will I be required to get a breast reduction to fit into the guidelines ?? Will I have to diet down to the point I lose muscle that is important to the performance of my job ?

    I comprehend the importance of a healthy driver behind the wheel. I'm not here to argue that.

    I'm raising this issue now. Hoping that someone is listening.

    ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL

    • baquila says:

      Hi ZBrat. I myself do not fit into the BMI guidelines exactly – I'm muscular and would be considered about 10 pounds above "ideal" according to their scale. But the limits that companies are placing are close to 100+ pounds overweight, not 10 or 20. At 5' 4" you could weigh up to about 225 pounds and still be ok. Now you didn't mention what you weigh, which is fine. But I must say – If someone is 5' 4" and weighs anywhere near 225 pounds, they are not robust, voluptuous, big-boned, or any of the other candy-coated descriptions people use. When I was 5' 7" 190 I considered myself fat. People laughed at me and mocked me for my "gut", and they were right. I was always an athlete and had let my weight get out of control after years on the road. If people were mocking a strong guy who is 5' 7" 190 as being fat, what would someone be considered that is 5' 4" 225???

      Look, successful people do not live in denial, do not make excuses for irresponsible behavior, and do not call others "discriminating" when they're actually being truthful. Successful people face reality and deal with it head on. I was fat – I faced it, I dealt with it, and now I'm incredibly healthy. And I'm thankful that my friends and family mocked me for what I let happen – they were right. They told me what I needed to know, not what I wanted to hear. I have no idea what you weigh, but if you're anywhere near 225 I'm going to say that it's time you step up and take responsibility for yourself. There is nothing special about me that I could do it and anyone else can not. It took a lot of discipline and I did it. I was on the road and began eating very healthy, went jogging 5 days a week, and had weights with me to tone up. I drove just like everyone else and I did what needed to be done. I hope others out there will do the same.

      • Karen says:

        I am 5'3" and weigh 300 pounds. I've been driving for 12 of the last 18 years. I have over a million miles of SAFE driving. Nope, no minivans full of children have found their way under my trailer!

        I can also climb in and out of my truck 10-20 times a day, climb into my trailer from the ground to secure a load, or sweep out the trailer after it's empty. I can load and unload the trailer with a manual pallet jack and restack 45,000 pounds of freight as needed.

        Please… I can do the job. My BMI is over 50. I don't drink, I don't have high blood pressure, I don't have diabetes (blood sugar is under 100, it's been tested). I don't do the buffets and I walk regularly. I was just cursed with a certain heredity and body type that has become increasingly unaceptable.

        Would you feel better if a skinny drunk driver ran over your family than that sobber obese guy with the heart attack?

        • baquila says:

          Hi Karen. Congrats on the years of safe driving!! Now nobody ever said that people who were over the BMI standards aren't capable of being safe drivers. There are a number of other concerns regarding having such a high BMI that were stated throughout the article, but not the ability to be a safe driver when things are going well.

          But I have to say that this:

          I was just cursed with a certain heredity and body type that has become increasingly unacceptable.

          ….is completely false – which is why you're so heavy. You've convinced yourself it's not your fault and there's nothing you can do about it so you don't have to try. Remember, I've struggled with my weight at times also. When I thought I was doing everything properly but still wasn't losing weight I started to wonder if I was "cursed" or something – but nope – I just didn't know how to eat properly to lose weight. Once I figured it out, it was incredibly simple to do and the weight just fell off me – 25 pounds in two months – no exercise necessary.

          Over a period of a few weeks, work your way down from about 3000 calories a day to about 1500 calories per day and the weight will fall off you like you won't believe. But you MUST count ALL calories accurately. Every calorie counts. If you'll do that, you'll look much better, feel much better, and you'll never have any concerns about BMI ever again.

          Would you feel better if a skinny drunk driver ran over your family than that sobber obese guy with the heart attack?

          No I wouldn't. And your family and friends won't feel any better if you begin having serious health issues (or worse) and you tell them "But I'm cursed". So let's quit making excuses and start taking responsibility – it's so easy I'm tellin you! :-) It's not torture. Get to 1500 calories a day and just watch what happens. You don't have to trust me on it – just try it for yourself.

    • rick says:

      they don"t relize that if this happen there will be no drivers out there.

      • Brett Aquila says:

        If you look around the truck stops it sure seems that might be the case! LoL! But indeed they're only targeting the ones that can be classified "morbidly obese" which is really, really big. You'd need a BMI of around 39 before anyone would be too concerned with your weight, which would put someone that's 5' 10" at about 280 pounds.

  8. kt texas says:

    I remember when I was younger & the CB breaks were a hot item & the truck drivers I saw back then WOWEE! Handsome & took PRIDE in themselves..& appearance..as well as the females..
    I have seen drivers whose bellies overlap the wheel or have their seat so far back they can hardly reach the pedals.. what the heck?? Or guys hanging out down the block from TA west (old 76) in Ontario, CA with signs – DOT PHYSICALS $20.00!.. DOESNT THIS SEEM VERY OFF THE WALL TO YOU?? If someone who is morbidly obese … high blood pressure, possibility of a stroke. etc..do you want that truck to be behind your loved ones? Buffets at truck stops? GEESH! Just give them folks a Pizza tray! Yes it hard to lose weight.. But man people.. get a grip! love yourselves. When your gut hangs as far down as I have seen, didnt ya know you’re pulling ALL your insides down with the body fat? Intestines, liver, etc.. Just ask your doctor. Out of breath easily? How much fat is encasing your lungs preventing you from breathing freely?? And your heart? How much area is there for it to beat freely..Do you know? Love your families..love your grandkids..

    • baquila says:

      I totally agree – love yourself. And if you can't do that, then consider your family, friends, and loved ones and how they're affected – and they are affected. In an earlier comment, one person mentioned the possibility that morbidly obese people (to paraphrase) "are so loving and caring that they put the good of others first, to the neglect of themselves". They are most certainly not putting their friends, families, and loved ones first. They are obviously not concerned with the affect that the limitations of their poor health and the likelihood of a premature death will have on the ones close to them.

      Love yourselves, people. Love those who love you. Step up and take responsibility. And believe me, I come from a short, fat Italian family – our lives revolve around food and family! :-) You have to change that lifestyle to read "our lives revolve around healthy food and family".

      • Guest says:

        oh Com'on Brett,
        We know that the rule on BMI isn't based on wanting healthy drivers. If it was they would be concentrating on smokers first.

        • baquila says:

          Well I'm all for considering "ulterior motives" because after all, very few things are done for anything other than the ability to make more money. I'll consider the idea that there is something else behind creating this rule other than finding healthy drivers, but you failed to say what that ulterior motive might be. I'd be interested in hearing it.

          Also, the difference between being morbidly obese and smoking is that smokers do not tend to die suddenly the way obese people tend to from heart attacks. That's the concern – the sudden loss of control of the vehicle. And I do believe that health insurance rates take smoking into account so that is where the company prevents itself from higher healthcare expenses from an employee that smokes.

  9. emmett says:

    im fat i have worked all my life and if bmi is a reson for me not to be able to work my fat ass is going to be on dissability like all these lazy people that just dont want towork.

    • baquila says:

      I totally agree that this country has gone way too far in the direction of being a welfare state. I was talking to my ma the other day and we did a quick rundown of the first 10 people we know that came to mind and although every single one of them are healthy, capable adults, seven of them are receiving money from the govt in the form of welfare, food stamps, unemployment, or a combination of those. Several of them have purposely made life choices that they knew they could not afford to do, but knew the govt was going to pick up the tab – so they threw up their hands and said "oh well" and did it anyway.

      So I admire the fact that you're working. Wow, how sad of a state are we in when working has become an admirable trait as opposed to being expected?

      But being morbidly obese is not only excessively dangerous to others when you're behind the wheel, but it shows no consideration to family, friends, and loved ones. Do you think those that are close to you will smile with glee and say "Oh well. At least he worked. That's all that matters to us" as they're looking down upon you in a coffin, dead of a heart attack far too young? You've taken financial responsibility for yourself, but you have far more important responsibilities you're neglecting.

  10. Robert says:

    Prime told me if I had been over the BMI standard, 39 BMI sounds right, that I would just need to take a sleep study. That makes sense. If you have sleep apnea or other sleep problems that can result from being obese you'd be walking around tired because not getting enough quality sleep- could effect you ability to drive a truck safely. I wasn't told that they wouldn't hire me if over 39 BMI.

    • Robert says:

      Some trucking jobs require more than just driving skills so I agree with companies hiring the most physically fit amoung equally qualified candidates but I hope government doesn't set BMI requirements because thats a little too intrusive. I haven't been my ideal BMI since high school.

  11. Sherman says:

    No i dont agree I think the people that come up with all of these great ideal's is not truck driver those or the one's that know so much about what should be done in other job field.well here's the real deal you have alots of people out here that drive truck for a living if yall start all of this type of mess alots of people going to be out of a job unemployment not going to be able too keep up and you going to drive the crime rate through the roof because people or going to servive one way or anoyher either they work or they take now witch one do you want your family remember to meet a working man or a stealing man.watch what you ask for cause it might not be what you really want think about what you are trying to do.

  12. Sherman says:

    Why they trying too pass all these new law's about truck driver why dont they start making everybody get licencen or renewing there licencen go through a 4hours class of the danger and the seriousness of a semi-truck cause there or so many peole think they can stop just as quick as a carso i think they are focus on the wrong part of the transportation part they dont want truck in the left line when they should have maded it for the semi cause the cars is the one's thats all over the hiwaysthey doing everything against the truck driver but with out the truck rolling the world would stop.they not really focus on how importatnt trucker really are.when you setting behind a desk you see things one way but spend aday in a truck and you migh just understand it a little better than what you do.walk a mile in my shoe's befor you pass judgement on what i do ( truck driver )

  13. Dawn says:

    My husband is a cop and he had to meet physical requirements–including BMI limitations–to be hired. But that was because he needed not only to be fit enough to perform the potentially very physical demands of his job, but he needed to show he was fit enough to back up another officer. More than his life was on the line and his health was something the department felt they needed to set a standard for.

    He's also not allowed to smoke or use tobacco in any way. That has to do with public image (kids looking at cops, etc.), as well as a means to keep their health insurance premiums lower.

    But….once the cops are hired, no one checks up on this. I wonder how it would be with the truckers? Even if the company did set a standard for new hires, what about those who are currently employed? Will they be grandfathered in? What do you do about the person who started off healthy but hit a personal or health crisis and gained too much weight? Some medications also cause a person to gain enormous amounts of weight–thyroid meds, steroids, and even birth control pills for some women. I have to wonder how these situations would be handled in a way that would not overburden the trucking company, as well as treat all employees fairly.

  14. baquila says:

    As I had mentioned, I was previously overweight by as much as 35 pounds, which nowadays isn't even noticeable to most people, but to me was insane, and I knew it. The most common theme I see with people who are perpetually overweight, or people who are perpetually unsuccessful in life in general, is this attitude that they're a "victim" and don't have control of their own destiny:

    People do not normally choose to be overweight

    People always choose to be overweight. It's simple math – more calories taken in than calories burned, you gain weight, and vice-versa. When I was overweight it was the same for me. My mistake for some time was thinking that exercise burned more calories than it did. I thought I could exercise hard and eat reasonably well and lose weight. I was wrong. Counting calories – 1500 per day – allowed me to lose the weight in about 2 1/2 months – and I never gained it back once I knew how to eat properly.

    I'll tell you what people do not normally choose – they do not choose to be run over and killed by someone who had a heart attack behind the wheel. Now that is a victim. I ask again, why should people be forced to take the risk of being killed on the highways to allow others the right to not take responsibility for their own health? You choose to be morbidly obese, then that's fine – but don't expect the general public to pay the medical costs or take the chance on you dying behind the wheel and killing their families.

    I took responsibility, learned to eat properly, and solved my weight problem. It was simple – 1500 calories a day, 7 day a week. There's no excuse not to get in shape. It's most certainly each person's choice to do so or not. Playing the victim and refusing to take responsibility for ourselves will not make any of us successful at anything in life. It's a poisonous way of thinking.

  15. GBallJax says:

    BMI is becoming a factor in certain job fields. With everything, money is the biggest motivator. Reduced health care, reduced sick days, reduced FMLA cases – on and on and on……

    I for one use to be overweight and manage my weight DAILY. I went from being 310 lbs to now 179 lbs. I had some help through a procedure called the Lapband but the remaining commitment came from myself. At the time of my surgery I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, was diabetic, had sleep apnea, lower back pain, depression, and anxiety. I was a heart attack or something else waiting to happen.

    Being overweight is detrimental to you as an individual, your family and a liability to the company that hires you. Especially when it relates to the safety of others. Being overweight is a time bomb waiting to happen. Throw in cigarettes, other tobacco products, alcohol, and drugs and it shortens the fuse. Companies are being put in positions due to law suits and other factors which they have to make difficult decisions as a whole. Primarily since the general population doesn't take ownership or responsibility as individuals.

    Some Insurance companies are being supportive in helping people loose weight. My insurance company at the time helped cover the cost of the lapband. Again the rest was up to me and that's a whole other topic of conversation.

    I believe more support and awareness should be made available to those who are obese. I also believe insurance companies should promote more of what they offer and support especially when it relates to a healthier lifestyle. A healthier lifestyle contributes to lower health costs.

    Do I think it should be a criteria in getting a job as a driver? Yes – BUT before that is EVER rolled out there should be an assistance program put into place to help those who seek help. Those who don't seek help – you're on your own.

    If it is ever rolled out I also believe it should be something that the guidelines should be outline through EEOC. BTW, obesity isn't protected under the discrimination laws.

    Last note – People do choose to be overweight – it's in every choice you make of the food items you eat, the soft drinks you drink, sugar in my coffee or tea, drinking that 2nd beer – it's in the choice on whether or not you will exercise – it's in the choice on whether you sit and watch TV all night – selecting the wrong choice leads to obesity.

    • learned my lesson says:

      EXCUSE YOU! Speak for yourself, tyvm! I was only slightly overweight and well within the BMI but my back went out and my metabolism changed and then surgery added to it. I quit smoking to aid in my recovery and I ballooned up. I was not eating poorly per se, but I was having a VERY sudden change in my lifestyle that my metabolism didn't catch on to until ti was too late. Now I am stuck on government disability and my check is less than half my BRING HOME of 7 years ago! Not only does my disability prevent regular and unpersonalized exercise, my current income prohibits healthy eating, have you priced basic healthy foods? im not talking specialty foods i mean vegetables and grains! Nor am I alone in this situation! Again, you can speak for yourself and anyone you know of directly but please do not speak for me and others that have indeed had things happen. I also know of a lot of people that have things like thyroid issues, medicines that just seriously cause weight gain on its own, not to mention the ones that increase ones appetite beyond control. you just cannot say that there is NEVER a reason someone becomes overweight that is not in their control, sorry. Things happen to the best and I pray you never have to experience them, but until then, please stop trying to speak for me and others, thanks!

      • Brett Aquila says:

        Does your disability force you to eat more calories each day than your body needs? I don't care what the issue is, if you eat the proper number of calories based on the nutritional requirements for your body, you will not gain weight. If you eat a few less calories than your body needs, you'll lose weight. And if someone has a disability that is so severe that they can't control their own health, then they aren't safe enough to be driving an 80,000 pound truck at 65 mph surrounded by minivans full of children.

  16. Ken in Denver says:

    I strongly disagree with the BMI being a significant part of the employment process. People who are overweight are identical to people who are slender, some are careful considerate drivers, and some are complete jerks. If congress really wants to make the roads safer, start enforcing the existing laws on the jerks that cut in front of trucks and hit their brakes, or the fools who change lanes 10 feet in front of a truck doing 30 mph less than the truck. And all the distracted drivers in cars weaving all over the road. Lets see some automobile driver restrictions for a change. Of course Congress will never do that, the car drivers are the one that elect them, how could they possibly criticize them?

  17. ED Maskal says:

    i dont think it is fair that they can tell a man or woman that they are to "fat" to drive a truck.i believe that they should keep it the way it has always been.if u have blood preasure problems and cant get them under control i can see them saying something or if ur sugar is to high and cant get it under control i could see them saying something but people such as my self a young health 29 year old male 6ft 5 and 300 pounds with no health problems,should be left alone.Of course i could loose a few pounds but a little weight gain sometimes along with the job.now for the people who cant hardly walk in to the truck stop ar cant hardly fit behind the wheel and there weight becomes a factor of wether or not the can do their job safely,now maybe the should take a little time off the road and seek some help,but for the people such as my self who have no health problems and can walk in and pass a d.o.t exam with out a problem should be left alone,unless they get to the point they cant obtain a 2 year health card and or there health is failing do to the job……… thanks Ed Maskal…..joplin mo

  18. rhondatoo says:

    Ummm, we ALL need to take responsibility for ourselves…if we are overweight, it is because we choose to eat too much, eat unhealthy foods & not get enough exercise!

    Watch a couple episodes of Biggest Loser…see people who weigh 300-500+ lbs take control of their lives, make healthier choices, & become a normal, healthy weight. Yeah, everyone is built differently & we can't all be supermodels, but most people should NOT be obese.

    It IS difficult to eat healthy & exercise in the trucking "lifestyle", but the entire job is difficult & that's just another one of the responsibilities.

  19. Soda says:

    Im 5'3 very obese d n a truck driver. I do not have high blood pressure, sleep apnoea nor diabetes. The only health issue i have is asthma. I can drive my truck with no problem. I can reach all gears, buttons, pedals everything. The steering wheel does have to be raised up a little but i can steer with no problem. I can drive 11 hrs day or night. I can crawl up into the back of my trailer. Yes it is not easy but i can do it. I use to even have a step ladder to make it easier if need be. BUT i can do it even if i have to use something. So to say that a fat truck driver shouldn't drive because of the fear of heart attack or can't do the job is not correct. I have seen skinny ppl not able to do the job proper and be at a health risk worse then a obesed person. Just because a person is fat does not mean that person can not do the job or has health problems or may have health problems. Each persons jeans are different. You can be a very healthy fat person. A skinny heart attack just like a fat person. So to judge that all fat ppl are unhealthy ,a risk for driving or can not do the job is totally unfounded and incorrect. I was obesesed when i started driving 3 yrs ago and i have had no problems doing my job or any health problems. Need to look at the individual not the whole. One fat person can be very healthy compared to another. One skinny person can be healthy and another could have heart probs or other health problems. You need to look at that individual.

    • Brett Aquila says:

      You can be a very healthy fat person.

      You see, I've had a theory for a long time now that if you tell yourself something enough times and you truly want to believe it, you can believe anything – no matter how utterly absurd and implausible it may be. Here's to the power of the human mind – it can overcome all factual evidence and completely create its own reality out of the clear blue sky.

  20. Charles says:

    I am A VERY OBESE person! I am 6'2" and 480lbs and I have NO health problems other than extra weight!!!! No High blood pressure, sleep apnea, or diabetes.. I am also one of the FITTEST overweight people youll ever know.. I have worked out off and on most of my life and have been able to keep some muscle on my body which physical size a little smaller even tho my weight is up!!! I can bend over and touch my toes I can fit behind the steering wheel……. I can get in and out of a trl without assistance…. I can probably get in and out of a truck just as quickly and easily as someone who is FIT….. besides my physicals I have not had to go to the doctor since I was a Kid…

    Besides it was while driving a truck that I put on the most of my weight as it is!!!

  21. Doug says:

    BMI personally, think it is a joke, many of my thin truck driving buddies have sleep apnea and they dare not tell. This all came about by a bunch of medical folks who think hey can save the world by putting fat truckers on a cpap machine. So what happens when somebody overweight falls asleep behind the wheel and hurts someone and they were on a cpap now can the doctor or clinic be held accountable for letting that person be on the road. If you think you have a problem you should take care of it but who needs the feds to tell me about my problems.

  22. Bradley Barber says:

    Bradley:
    I am for safety first… if a "professional driver" can't do a proper and complete pti, including getting under the trailer to properly check vital mechanical components, or check air pressure and fill to proper level all 18 wheels if neccessary… sorry good-bye… you are no longer a "professional driver" and you are a menance to me and to every other vehecle on the road.

  23. BMI + waist circumference are two of the best predictors of serious health risks. American companies lose over $4 billion dollars annually simply from absenteeism from obesity related diseases. Insurance companies charge extraordinary premiums for employees and individuals because of the much higher risk they pose. It is discrimination…but, it is the result of these insurance companies have to pay much more for unhealthy individuals.

    "Health is not simply the absence of sickness!" – Hannah Green

    I work with a Professional Health Coaching company. I have had hundreds of clients who did not have high BP/cholesterol, or any of the other high risk indicators…other than weight. THEN, all of the sudden all the indicators kicked in. I also have a very close friend to did not have any of the indicators and died of a heart attack 3 weeks after his doctors visit, at the very young age of 32.

    It's not about discrimination or vanity…it's about real HEALTH!

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