Use of Body Mass Index as a Predictor of Health Status in Firefighters




Theurer, Wesley M.


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Theurer, Wesley M., Use of Body Mass Index as a Predictor of Health Status in Firefighters. Master of Public Health (DO/MPH), May, 2002, 28 pp., 3 tables, 29 References. This study evaluated the usefulness of BMI as a screening tool for health parameters and duty fitness among firefighters. Our cohort consisted of 218 active firefighters between the ages of 18 and 58 (men 33.5 ±8.6). Two major BMI categorization methods were used: standard [low (30)] and obesity [(normal([less than] 25), overweight(≥25 [less than] 30), obese(≥30 [less than] 39), morbidly obese ≥39)] The mean BMI was 28.8 (±4.5). Standard categorization revealed that nearly 60% had medium or high BMI's; obesity categorization showed 80.7% to be overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. Statistically significant, adverse relationships between BMI and each of the following were found: systolic and diastolic blood pressure, VO2max, METS, and total cholesterol. Inconsistent or statistically insignificant relations were found between BMI and HDL, Chol/HDL ratios, Triglycerides, FVC, and FEV1sec. Tobacco use and participation in an exercise program is also reported. BMI continues to prove useful as a screening tool and may be useful in identifying individual firefighters for health and fitness intervention measures.