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Eating Habits of Professional Firefighters

Comparison With National Guidelines and Impact Healthy Eating Promotion Program

Bucher Della Torre, Sophie, MPH; Wild, Pascal, PhD; Dorribo, Victor, MD; Amati, Francesca, MD, PhD; Danuser, Brigitta, MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 5 - p e183–e190
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001565

Objective: Firefighters’ eating habits may be an additional risk factor for metabolic diseases. We assessed eating habits of firefighters, compared them with national guidelines, and evaluated the impact of a prevention program.

Methods: Twenty-eight professional firefighters from a Swiss airport benefited from a healthy-eating program. Food intake, eating behavior, and anthropometric data were collected at baseline and 1-year follow-up using an electronic food record, questionnaires, and bio-impedance.

Results: Participants had unbalanced diets with low-quality food choices associated with low intakes of fibers and micronutrients compared with national guidelines. Intervention did not impact eating habits or anthropometrics data at the group level, but changes were measured in sub-groups. Main reported barriers for healthy eating were lack of motivation, prioritization, or time.

Conclusions: Intensive and culturally tailored prevention interventions targeting nutritional behaviors are needed at the individual, group, and organizational levels.

Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Health Sciences, Haute École Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, Geneva (Ms Bucher Della Torre); Scientific Management, Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité, Nancy, France (Dr Wild); Institute for Work and Health, University of Lausanne, Epalinges-Lausanne (Dr Wild, Dr Dorribo, Dr Danuser); Department of Physiology and Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Lausanne, Lausanne (Dr Amati), Switzerland.

Address correspondence to: Sophie Bucher Della Torre, MPH, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Health Sciences Geneva, Rue des Caroubiers 25, CH – 1227 Carouge, Switzerland (

Clinical significance: Firefighters have an increased risk of on-duty cardiovascular sudden death, partly due to occupational and behavioral risk factors such as obesity and hyperlipidemia. Eating habits need to be assessed during health visits, and more intensive and culturally-tailored prevention interventions are needed at the individual, group, and organizational levels.

F.A. and B.D. have contributed equally to this work.

This work was supported by the School of Health Sciences, HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, Geneva.

Conflicts of Interest: None declared.

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Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine