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Exploring Occupational and Health Behavioral Causes of Firefighter Obesity: A Qualitative Study


  • Disclosure Statement: The authors report no conflicts of interests.



Firefighters, as an occupational group, have one of the highest prevalence rates of obesity. A qualitative study investigated occupational and health behavioral determinants of obesity among firefighters.


Four focus groups were conducted with firefighters of every rank as Phase I of the FORWARD study which was designed to assess health behavioral and occupational characteristics related to obesity in firefighters.


Analysis revealed five main themes of central importance to firefighters: (1) fire station eating culture; (2) night calls and sleep interruption; (3) supervisor leadership and physical fitness; (4) sedentary work; and (5) age and generational influences.


The results showed a strong interrelationship between occupational and health behavioral causes of obesity in firefighters. The relevance of these qualitative findings are discussed along with the implications for future obesity interventions with firefighters. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:776–790, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.