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Relationship between injuries, fitness, and dietary habits in firefighters
Poster Title: Relationship between injuries, fitness, and dietary habits in firefighters
Submitted on 14 Feb 2018
Author(s): Matthias Oawster, SPT; Justin Whelchel, SPT; Genia Gartman, SPT; Charity L. Lane, MS, MA, CPT, FNS, USAW; Thomas P. Janus, BS, CPT, FNS, TSAC-F; John M. Mayer, DC, PhD, CCRP, FACSM
Affiliations: University of South Florida
This poster was presented at USF Health Research Day 2018
Poster Views: 608
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Poster Information
Abstract: Objective: Firefighters have a very physically demanding and dangerous occupation, resulting in high rates of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders. Career firefighters have an unfavorable condition for proper nutrition and eating patterns. Yet, specific guidance on implementing nutritional programs to promote adherence and long-term health improvements in firefighters is largely unavailable. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between dietary habits and wellness, fitness, and injury characteristics in firefighters.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 200 career firefighters (22 F, 178 M) who were enrolled in a federally-funded injury prevention study and completed end-of-trial assessments. A preliminary exploration of the relationship between dietary habits and anthropometric, injury, and fitness variables was conducted. For the analyses, the dependent variable was total score from the Modified Mediterranean Diet Questionnaire (MMDQ). The independent variables were: age (years), sex (female, male), Body Mass Index (in kg/m2 and categories), resting blood pressure, resting heart rate, physical activity (as assessed in METs calculated from International Physical Activity Questionnaire), low back pain (LBP) history at baseline, LBP and injury incidence during the 12-month study period, back muscular endurance, core muscular endurance, and fire department. Descriptive statistics were calculated for each variable - means, standard deviations for continuous variables, and frequencies for categorical variables. On an exploratory basis, Pearson Correlation Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficients (R) were calculated between the dependent variable and continuous independent variables, while independent t-test or analysis of variance was performed for categorical independent variables, as appropriate.

Results: Significant relationships were observed between the MMDQ total score and history of LBP at baseline (MMDQ score: LBP Yes: 22.1 ± 4.5; LBP No 23.5 ± 5.0; p = 0.045), incidence of LBP or injury during the 12-month study period (MMDQ score: LBP Yes: 22.1 ± 4.6; LBP No 23.3 ± 4.9; p = 0.092 - trend-level), core muscular endurance at baseline (r = 0.20, p = 0.006); BMI (r = - 0.14, p = 0.043), body weight (r = -0.18, p = 0.010), and resting heart rate (r = - 0.16, p = 0.020). No significant relationships were observed between the MMDQ and sex, age, resting blood pressure, back muscular endurance, physical activity level, and fire department.

Conclusion: Poorer dietary habits of firefighters are associated with increased occurrence of LBP, obesity, and lower levels of back muscular fitness. Successful implementation of strategies to improve dietary habits is needed to improve the safety and health of firefighters. Future research is needed to fully characterize casual relationships and the effectiveness of nutritional interventions in firefighters.
Summary: Relationship between dietary habits and anthropometric, injury, and fitness characteristics of firefightersReferences: 1. International Association of Fire Fighters and International Association of Fire Chiefs. (2008). The Fire Service Joint Labor Management Wellness-Fitness Initiative, 3rd edition. Washington DC: International Association of Fire Fighters.
2. Mayer, J. M., Lane, C. L. (2014-2018). Worsksite exercise interventions for low back injury prevention in firefighters (EMW-2013-FP-00723): US Department of Homeland Security.
3. Yang, J., Farioli, A., Korre, M., Kales, S.N. Modified Mediterranean diet score and cardiovascular risk in a North American working population. (e87539) PLoS ONE. 2014; 9.
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