As we age, the way that we metabolise food, drinks and medications changes.1  These factors increase the risk of injury and can contribute to several health conditions including; 

  • Obesity and metabolic strains. 
  • Sleep apnoea. 
  • Cardiovascular disorders. 
  • Fatigue and sleep loss. 
  • Low physical energy and mental alertness. 
  • Headaches. 
  • Respiratory disease risk factors. 
  • Cardiovascular disease risk factors.  
  • Musculoskeletal disorders.2,3  

A range of factors can influence the eating habits of heavy vehicle operators, including; 

  • irregular mealtimes.2 
  • eating while driving.2 
  • high caffeine intake.2 
  • limited access to healthy food options.4  

A study of heavy vehicle operators in Queensland found; 

The human body breaks down the food we consume as fuel for our daily activities.6 Glucose (blood sugar) is a vital energy source for our body to function well.6 

Our body’s metabolism of glucose and digestion can be impacted by:

  • Carbohydrates. 
  • Micro-nutrients. 
  • Fibre. 
  • Timing of meals.7 

Some snacks and meals may offer high energy value but low nutritional value7, so do not provide the sustained energy that our body needs to stay alert.   

If our body does not receive the nutrients it requires, it can be a potential risk factor for impaired alertness, fatigue and motor control8, which can threaten lives when operating a heavy vehicle.   

Eating a regular variety of foods ensures the body is getting the fuel it needs to maintain physical energy and mental alertness when driving.  The Australian Dietary Guidelines5 recommend adults consume a wide variety of foods from the five food groups each day:  

  • Vegetables, including a range of different types and colours;
  • Fruits;
  • Grains and cereals, mostly whole grains and/or high fibre cereal varieties such as breads, cereals, rice pasta, noodles, oats and grains;
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans;
  • Milk, yoghurt and cheese or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Adults should also be drinking plenty of water and avoiding foods with saturated fat, added salt, added sugars, and alcohol.


References

  • 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Are Your Medicines Increasing Your Risk of a Fall or a Car Crash?
  • 2. Hill, M., Sendall, M. & McCosker, L. Truckies and health promotion: A ‘hard-to-reach’ group without a ‘proper’ workplace. Aust. N. Z. J. Health Saf. Environ. 31, (2015).
  • 3. National Transport Commission. Safe people and practices. Issues paper. (2019).
  • 4. Sendall, M. et al. Workplace interventions to improve truck drivers’ health knowledge, behaviours and self-reported outcomes. Road Transp. Res. 25, 31–43 (2016).
  • 5. National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia), Australia, & Department of Health and Ageing. Eat for health: Australian dietary guidelines ; providing the scientific evidence for healthier Australian diets. (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013).
  • 6. Whitney, E. N., Rolfes, S. R., Crowe, T. & Walsh, A. Understanding nutrition. (2019).
  • 7. Martins, A. J., Martini, L. A. & Moreno, C. R. C. Prudent diet is associated with low sleepiness among short-haul truck drivers. Nutrition 63–64, 61–68 (2019).
  • 8. Reichelt, A., Westbrook, R. & Morris, M. Impact of Diet on Learning, Memory and Cognition. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 11, (2017).
  • 9. Sendall, M. C., McCosker, L. K., Ahmed, R. & Crane, P. Truckies’ Nutrition and Physical Activity: A Cross-sectional Survey in Queensland, Australia. Int. J. Occup. Environ. Med. 10, 145–150 (2019).