Overweight and obesity among school bus drivers in rural Arkansas

Karen H.Kim Yeary, Xiaofei Chi, Shelly Lensing, Hannah Baroni, Alesia Ferguson, Joseph Su, Paul A. Estabrooks, Deborah Tate, Laura Linnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Introduction Obesity is a major public health concern. Compared with other occupational groups, transportation workers, such as school bus drivers, have higher rates of obesity. However, little is known about the body weight and related health behaviors of these drivers, and opportunities for intervention are undetermined. Methods We collected multilevel data from school bus drivers working from 4 school bus garages in Little Rock, Arkansas, and their work environment from January through July of 2017. Data on weight, height, sociodemographic characteristics, work factors, weight-related behaviors, and psychosocial variables were collected from 45 drivers. Analyses explored associations between body mass index (BMI; weight in kg/ height in m2) and sociodemographic characteristics, work factors, weight-related behaviors, and psychosocial variables. Two focus groups with a total of 20 drivers explored drivers' perspectives about healthy weight. Observational data at the bus and garage levels were collected through 2 "ride-alongs" and an environmental scan. Results Drivers in our sample were predominately overweight or obese (91.1%), and most did not meet dietary or physical activity guidelines. Drivers who were currently dieting had higher BMIs (36.4; standard deviation [SD], 8.2) than drivers who were not dieting (28.5; SD, 7.7); drivers who reported eating less to lose weight had higher BMIs (38.1; SD, 8.5) than those who did not report eating less (29.5; SD, 6.0). Drivers who did not meet physical activity recommendations had higher BMIs (36.5; SD, 9.8) than those who met recommendations (30.9; SD, 4.8). Structural barriers and work stress were significant barriers to achieving a healthy weight. Resources for healthful eating and physical activity were limited in the garage. Conclusion Our study provides preliminary data on the prevalence, risk factors, and perceptions of overweight and obesity among school bus drivers. Study data on drivers' body weight, health-related behaviors, and psychosocial characteristics could serve as a basis for worksite interventions to improve drivers' health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number180413
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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