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Home > Topics > Health and Wellness
January 19, 2012
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Face the facts: We're fat, too

Fire service study shows alarming rates of obesity

By Arthur Hsieh

Helllllloooooo, EMS folks — are you listening? Our sister site, FireRescue1, ran an article this week on a study that shows rates of overweight and obese individuals in the fire service are higher than those found in the general public.

What goes for our firefighter friends applies to us as well. Face it, some of us are FAT.

Not shapely, not rubenesque, not any cutsie term that belies that fact that we are at greater risk for stroke, heart attack and injuries when we are FAT.

It's cruel, it's painful, and for a couple of us it may be due to disease or other factors beyond our control. But for most of us, it comes down to our decisions of what to eat and when to eat.

I did an informal survey at the last major conference I attended, late last year. As I walked through the exhibit hall, I counted the number of EMS providers who appeared not just overweight but obese.

It worked out that about three out of every 10 folks in the hall fit in that category. What was even more unnerving was the age — most of the folks were young, my guess less than 30 years old.

That is alarming, from the viewpoint that if any of these folks planned to stay in the profession for any period of time, their chances of receiving a debilitating illness or injury will be significant.

To be clear — I, too, am overweight. Long-time readers know that I struggle with my weight. I love food, and it shows.

But I've been slowly, steadily losing ounces over the past year by eating more slowly, and being more conscious about what I eat or drink.

The holidays set me back, but I am determined to continue to lose more weight in 2012. You can do it, too - why not try? Your family and friends will like that. Your patients will appreciate it. And you'll like it too.

About the author

EMS1 Editor in Chief Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. In the profession since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a published textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at a rural hospital-based ALS system. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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