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14 December 2009

Adequate sleep tied to healthier diets in truckers

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Getting plenty of sleep not only helps keep truck drivers safe and alert on the road, it also seems to fuel healthy eating habits, new research hints.

In surveys of truckers working at U.S. trucking terminals, those who felt they regularly got adequate sleep tended to consume more fruits and vegetables and fewer sugary drinks and snacks, Dr. Orfeu M. Buxton, at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues found.

These real-world findings are consistent with laboratory studies showing that insufficient sleep increases hunger and "induces greater eating, especially unnecessary snacking," Buxton noted in an email to Reuters Health.

Buxton and associates assessed self-reported diet, sleep, and job-related factors of 542 male Teamster union members who were 49 years old on average.

Sixty-six percent worked as pick-up and delivery truck drivers, 20 percent as over-the-road truckers, and 15 percent served dual roles as dockworkers and truck drivers, they note in the American Journal of Public Health.

Most of the workers (87 percent) were satisfied with their job and a little more than half (52 percent) said they got enough nightly shuteye "to feel rested upon waking up."

These well-rested truckers also said they ate an average of about 3 servings of fruits and vegetables (not including French fries), less than one serving of a sugar-added drink, and less than half a serving of a sugary snack daily.

By contrast, truckers reporting insufficient sleep reported eating about two fruit and vegetable servings, and slightly more than one sugary drink and nearly one sugary snack each day.

The investigators conclude that workplace programs to encourage adequate worker sleep may have positive benefits on employee health

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