Beat the Bulge: Fighting the HGV Obesity Crisis

British Summer Time is officially here, promising warmer weather, longer evenings and greener views from the cab seat. Spring also brings more fresh produce into the limelight, with seasonal ingredients making fresh vegetables key players on the plate.

There’s no doubt that life as a HGV driver has its plentiful perks – from the chance to travel the country to the flexible hours – but no career is without its drawbacks, and one would be foolishly naïve to claim any such remark to the contrary.

Over the years, various research and studies have shown that HGV drivers are showing a growing concern for their health in the form of nutrition. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety’s study of long-haul truck drivers classified 69% of respondents as obese – more than 50% higher than rates among other workers. Even more recently, the RAC found that 41% of lorry drivers reported that a lack of healthy foods on the road was one of their biggest frustrations – far more than company car drivers (21%).

Whilst campaigns could be lobbied to force road side shops and eateries to provide healthy options, for us at Barnes we feel the far quicker and more practical method to start drivers on the road to better health is to take full control of what is eaten by preparing one’s own food – and there’s never a better time of the year to start than now.

Obviously, the main obstacle to work around is the hours of shifts – those in the professional lorry driving industry cannot always eat their three square meals a day at the same convenient times. This is where some effort must be placed into preparation – taking half an hour to prepare all necessary meals ahead of when they are needed, so that they can be taken on the road as and when.

For breakfast inspiration, overnight oats are a perfect choice – filled with calcium, slow release energy, fibre and vitamins. A key staple of the modern lifestyle blogger’s ammunition (though this should be no reason to be put off!), overnight oats involve soaking porridge oats in milk (ensure it is skimmed) for at least 5 hours (or overnight) in the fridge. This is your base, and you can add any toppings you wish – berries, bananas, seeds, nuts, honey, spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg – you name it, it can be completely personalised to your tastes. The logistics of transporting (pardon the pun) and eating your overnight oats are key – and investing in a large amount of differently shaped Tupperware and a cool bag is vital to cleanly and easily storing your meals.

As far as lunches go, there is nothing better than a salad. At this point, many will be put off as images of limp, bitter leaves swirls in their mind – but this really does not have to be the case. Using your favourite lettuce, tomato and cucumber as merely a base (try to get fresh, in season and local for maximum flavour), from here you can re-create your favourite meals without the stodge, fat and extra calories, but instead work on hitting your 5-a-day with a range of different colours, vitamins and minerals.

Love Mexican food? Take your spicy chicken breast, onion and pepper mix as a topping and add sweetcorn, black beans and jalapeños. For those looking for refreshing Mediterranean flavours, try a Greek salad with flavoured olives, feta cheese and red onion, topped with a dressing of lemon, olive oil, garlic purée and oregano (store your dressing in a separate small Tupperware box and add just before eating it to prevent your meal from turning soggy), accompany with some shop-bought tzatziki and wholemeal pitta bread. There is no point in preparing a salad knowing that you are less than enthusiastic about it, as you will end up giving in to cravings if you’re not satisfied – you must work with the ingredients and flavours you know you love.

For those who cannot be converted to salads, never fear, there are plenty of other options. Instead of buying a sandwich on the road, make your own so that you can control the amount of butter or mayonnaise, or swap thick sliced white bread for a wrap or pitta. Homemade soups are ideal for a hot meal hit and can be easily be transported in a flask – try classic cream of tomato, carrot and lentil or minestrone, ideal for upping vegetable and protein intake whilst promoting the feeling of fullness for longer.

The key to healthier eating is, as it always has been, balance. Preparing each and every healthy meal ahead of driving may be stretch, so instead focus on smaller changes. Enjoy a hot meal from a roadside café if you have eaten a healthy, lower calorie breakfast; or if a bacon sandwich is your favourite way to start a morning, aim on reducing the number of days you indulge or only treat yourself if you know you will be eating your homemade, healthy meal later on – it’s all about balancing it for you.

We’re hoping these recipes and lifestyle preparation tips will encourage more HGV drivers to make that first step towards a healthier lifestyle and reduce the startling figures quoted at the beginning of this post – if you’ve tried your hand at these, or perhaps have your own creations, we’d love to hear about them on our Twitter page or in the comments below.

Battling Drivers’ Health Threats

Organised by WHO, World Health Day was a global health awareness day on 7th April. In honour of this day, we are looking at two increasingly common health threats to those working in the road haulage industry and how to combat them: obesity and stress.



Many studies throughout the years have shown that those in the road haulage industry are at a higher risk of developing obesity. The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted a study on thousands of American truck drivers, and found that drivers were twice as likely to be obese than the rest of the working population, with 69% percent of participants being overweight. Although there are some cultural considerations to be taken into account, this does show that obesity seems to be a risk to haulage drivers, which brings with it an increased risk of further diseases such as diabetes and heart attacks.


This is most likely to be due to long periods of time spent sedentary in the cab, combined with limited options for healthy foods on the road. So, what can be done to combat this? You don’t need to run a marathon or sweat it out every night at a spin class – even 10 minutes of activity every day will help to move your muscles and joints, raise your metabolism and get your circulation pumping. If you have time, before your lunch take yourself for a quick stroll or perform some simple stretch exercises such as lunges, squats and these great full body stretches from Positive Health Wellness. If it’s not possible to get these exercises in over lunch or breaks, do them once you get home. It may be hard at first, as we all know how tired we feel when we walk through the front door after a long shift, but keep telling yourself that it’s only ten minutes, and your body will thank you.


Another great way to help curb the risk of obesity is to plan and prep your meals. Many truckers fall prey to irregular meal times and rely on unhealthy snacks such as crisps, chocolate bars and fast food to keep themselves going. By prepping your favourite home cooked meals, you can be sure that you’ve got wholesome and satisfying foods to keep you fuelled on the road – who can say no to homemade chilli con carne or chicken casserole? Finally, remember to keep a water bottle on you at all times – hydration is incredibly important.



Over the last decade, stress has become part and parcel of working in post-economic crash world – everyone’s stressed out, right? But it shouldn’t be this way – a small amount of stress in some situations is normal, but constant stress builds up in the body and has effects on both our physical and mental health.


Tight deadlines and financial situations can lead to a constant feeling of dread, anxiety and overwhelming fear of failure. In the past couple of years, more focus has been put on recognising stress and the damaging effects it has, as well as how it can be treated. One of the first steps which you can take to combat stress is to reach out to friends or family to let them know how you feel – this can seem tricky and you may feel vulnerable, but nothing adds on to stress more than holding it all in!


The healthy eating and exercise tips above help beat stress, and further simple steps like trying to get enough sleep will help. We understand that many drivers work on shifts and can be driving throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning, so it can be difficult to go to bed at the same time every night – but what you can do is to make sure that the sleep that you’re getting is good quality. The best way to do this is to not look at any screens an hour before you go to bed. Yes, that means putting your phone down, not sneaking a look at your tablet and turning off the TV! Use the hour before bed as a treat to yourself – light a candle and read a book, or take your time to relax as you prepare and cook your healthy meals for the next day.


A further step which can be taken if you find your stress levels are starting to affect your health and relationships is to talk to your company. Book an appointment with HR to discuss your issues – it is highly unlikely that anyone will judge you negatively; in fact, they will more than likely praise you for your courage in admitting that your current workload is having a negative impact.


We hope this brief insight into the common health risks facing haulage drivers will help raise awareness on how to deal with these issues. Remember, if you’re ever worried about your health, visit your GP.