Lifestyle behaviours, well-being and chronic disease biomarkers in UK operational firefighters

Andrew Siddall, Philip James Frank Turner, Rich Stevenson, Martyn Standage, James Bilzon

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PURPOSE: Firefighter fatalities tend to occur from cardiac events during, or following, emergency incidents. Lifestyle behaviours, occupational stress and markers of inflammation are known to increase the risk of chronic disease, but have not been examined in UK firefighters. METHODS: An online survey was developed to collect data on anthropometric characteristics, lifestyle behaviours (physical activity, alcohol, sleep) and psychosocial constructs related to well-being, in 2043 UK firefighters. In a sub-sample (n=54), fasted blood samples were obtained and subsequently analysed for C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and cholesterol profile. Bivariate correlational analyses were used to identify relationships between variables. RESULTS: In all respondents (mean  SD; age 42  8 y, height 1.79  0.07 m, body mass 86  13 kg), there was an association between BMI and waist circumference (r= 0.72) and both tended to increase with age (r= 0.22; r= 0.29). Both physical activity and sleep duration decreased with age (r= -0.11; r= -0.12) (p<0.05). Both age and waist circumference were positively associated with frustration in autonomy (r= 0.15; r= 0.11) and relatedness (r= 0.11; r= 0.10), and inversely with relatedness satisfaction (r= -0.10; r= -0.09) (p<0.05). Sleep duration was associated with all positive well-being indices, and inversely with all adverse mood states (p<0.01). In the sub-sample, both CRP (1.47 ± 2.09 mg.L-1) and LDL (3.10 ± 0.72 mmol.L-1) tended to be greater with higher body mass (r= 0.29; r= 0.34) and waist circumference (r= 0.33; r= 0.32), while HDL (1.38 ± 0.31 mmol.L-1) tended to be lower (r= -0.34; r= -0.38) (p<0.05). BMI was positively and inversely correlated with LDL (r= 0.30) and HDL (r= -0.32), respectively (p<0.05). CRP and HDL were associated with indicators of depression (r= 0.28) and alcohol use (r= 0.28), respectively (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Despite the physical nature of firefighting, the infrequent exposure to demanding operational duties may not be sufficient to maintain health and fitness among UK firefighters over time. This appears to be associated with adverse feelings of well-being and markers of chronic disease, which could threaten occupational safety, particularly in an ageing workforce.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event61st Annual Meeting of American College of Sports Medicine - Florida, Orlando, USA United States
Duration: 27 May 2014 → …


Conference61st Annual Meeting of American College of Sports Medicine
Country/TerritoryUSA United States
Period27/05/14 → …


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