Truckers want healthier truck-stop food

By Tom Nordlie • Published: April 28th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

What do astronauts and big-rig truckers have in common?

The vehicles they drive limit their dining options.

Truckers don’t have to contend with zero-gravity meals. But parking issues discourage them from pulling over anywhere but truck stops.

And truck stops aren’t known as havens for good nutrition.

They often specialize in down-home cooking, laden with fat, salt and sugar.

Combine that diet with long periods behind the wheel and it’s no wonder truckers have greater risk of medical problems than the general population.

But many drivers want healthier fare, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Researchers interviewed ninety-two truckers at a franchised Midwestern truck-stop restaurant.

B-M-I measurements indicated almost ninety percent were overweight, obese or extremely obese.

Few ate more than three servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Nonetheless, many indicated healthy food was important, and they appreciated truck stops that offered it.

So why weren’t the truckers already eating healthy?

Survey responses showed that flavor and value were big considerations when ordering food.

Also, truckers didn’t think they could easily identify high-fat items.

One solution would be for truck stops to offer healthier food. But you can’t blame them for cooking what sells.

Maybe a better option would be for drivers to carry nonperishable items like canned tuna and vegetables.

Admittedly, that kind of meal may be less exciting than chicken-fried steak.

But as every trucker knows, without the right fuel you can’t expect to stay on the road for long.