Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Most Mass. First Responders Overweight

“More than 75 percent of emergency responder candidates for fire and ambulance services in Massachusetts are either overweight or obese, researchers said. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Harvard University and the Cambridge Health Alliance found firefighters, ambulance personnel and police are expected to be physically fit to perform strenuous duties without compromising the safety of themselves, colleagues or the community. Traditionally, these professions recruited persons of above-average fitness from a pool of healthy young adults; however, the candidate pool is currently drawn from increasingly heavy American youth, said senior author Dr. Stefanos Kales of Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School. The researchers reviewed the pre-placement medical examinations of firefighter and ambulance recruits from two Massachusetts clinics between October 2004-June 2007. Candidates older than 35 and those who had failed their services' minimum criteria were excluded from the study in order to focus only on young recruits and those most likely to go on to gain employment as emergency responders. Among the 370 recruits, about 22 percent were of normal weight; 43.8 percent were overweight, and 33 percent were obese. The study, published in the journal Obesity, found today's young recruits are significantly heavier than older veteran firefighters from the 1980s and 1990s.”


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