A junk food diet may increase the risk of reckless driving among truck drivers by increasing fatigue, which is often a key factor in vehicle crashes, suggests research published online in the journal Occupational and environmental medicine.
Some 1.35 million people die in traffic accidents each year, with professional drivers at higher risk due to the time they spend behind the wheel.
There are several known contributing factors, among which gender, age, experience, driving skills and attitudes appear to be important, the researchers note. But lifestyle can also be a factor, especially since long-distance driving often involves sleep deprivation, unhealthy eating habits and limited physical activity, they add.
Few studies have looked at the potential impact of eating habits on driving behavior among professional heavy truck drivers.
To try to fill this knowledge gap, the researchers assessed whether eating habits, fatigue, and driving behavior could be linked in a sample of 389 male truck drivers from a transport company in Suzhou, India. China.
Most of the drivers were between the ages of 31 and 60, with 6 to 10 years of experience under their belt and an annual total of between 50,000 and 100,000 km on the road.
Each driver was asked to indicate how much and how often they ate any of the 25 foods in the past 12 months in a Food Frequency Questionnaire.
They also completed the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory, which rates physical and mental fatigue on a 5-point scale, as well as two validated questionnaires on driving behavior and attitudes towards other drivers on the road.
The eating habits have been classified as follows: rich in vegetables; staple foods (high intake of carbohydrates, unrefined grains, dairy and eggs; animal protein (fish and poultry); and snacks (fried foods, desserts, and sugary drinks).
Diets high in vegetables and staple foods were strongly associated with safe driving behaviors.
The animal protein diet was strongly associated with higher rates of error, lack of concentration, and minor traffic violations, while the snack diet was strongly associated with unsafe driving behavior.
Fatigue likely influenced the impact of eating habits on driving behaviors, according to the results: Diets high in vegetables and staple foods were associated with less fatigue, while animal protein and snack diets were. associated with greater fatigue.
This is an observational study and as such cannot establish a cause, only a correlation. The study relied heavily on recall and self-report. And researchers haven’t gleaned any information on potentially important factors, such as smoking, physical activity, work schedules, and stress at work.
But they point out that eating lots of unhealthy snacks is often associated with irregular meal times and disrupted metabolism, which can affect many tasks that require alertness, alertness, and focus.
And they conclude: “The results of this study support a relationship between eating habits and driving behavior in a sample of professional truck drivers.
“In addition, through the reported pathway analysis, it is possible to conclude that positive driving behavior can be predicted by cautious eating habits such as diets high in vegetables, while certain unsafe driving behaviors (errors , deviations and infractions) can be predicted by unhealthy behaviors.diets characterized by high fat consumption and [sugars]. ”
External peer review? Yes
Type of evidence: Observation
Subjects: Truck / Truck Drivers
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