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Association of Body Mass Index and Health Status in Firefighters

Clark, Sharon DO, MA, MPH; Rene, Antonio PhD, MPH; Theurer, Wesley M. DO, MPH; Marshall, Muriel DO, MPH, Dr PH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2002 - Volume 44 - Issue 10 - p 940-946
Original Articles

This study evaluates the usefulness of body mass index (BMI) as a preventive screening tool for general health and duty fitness status among firefighters. Two major BMI categorization methods were used: (1) “standard” [low (<27), medium (≥27 < 30), high (>30)]; and (2) WHO [(normal (<25), overweight (≥25 < 30), obese (≥30 < 39), morbidly obese (≥39)]. Using the “standard” categorization, nearly 60% of individuals had medium or high BMI’s; using the World Health Organization categorization, 80.7% of individuals were found to be overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. Statistically significant, inverse correlation between BMI and each of the following parameters was noted: systolic and diastolic blood pressure, VO2max, METS, and total cholesterol. Inconsistent or statistically insignificant correlation was found between BMI and HDL, Chol/HDL ratio, triglycerides, FVC % predicted, and FEV1 second% predicted. Findings were similar to previous studies of such correlates. BMI continues to prove useful as a screening tool and may be useful in identifying individual firefighters for health and fitness intervention measures.

From the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (Dr Clark), Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Dr Rene), Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Public Health, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Bedford, TX (Dr Marshall); and US Army Womack Army Medical Center, Ft. Bragg, NC (Dr Theurer).

Address correspondence to: Sharon Clark, 2708 Maple Brook Court, Bedford, TX 76021;

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.