occupational hazard

Life is a shorter highway when you’re a truck driver

March 14, 2013
March 14, 2013

Moms, don’t let your babies grow up to be transportation workers.

Those who work as truck and bus drivers have the lowest overall health rating, closely followed by manufacturing workers, according to the new Gallup Well-Being Index.

Business owners rank right near physicians and teachers as having the healthiest lives and work environments, while farmers and foresters get the most exercise each week, Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows.

It’s very similar to what it was before,” except that Gallup added physicians and teachers to its healthy life evaluations and they showed up at the top, said Elizabeth Mendes, deputy managing editor for Gallup. The last time the study was done, in 2009, business owners showed the highest health and wellbeing marks. The Well-Being Index is based on six areas, including physical and emotional health, workplace environment, healthy behaviors (like eating fruits and vegetables) and life evaluation.

Though the survey came from US workers, the results could be broadly applicable worldwide, since income, education, and workplace environment play similar roles in health.

“We spend so much time in these work environments, they clearly have an impact on the different domains of our health,” said Lindsay Sears, Ph.D., principal investigator in Healthways Center for Health Research, Gallup’s partner on the research. Worldwide, people who have full-time jobs for an employer are more likely to be thriving than those who work part-time, are self-employed or unemployed, Gallup found previously.

Some occupations that could exceed physicians and business owners don’t show up in sufficient numbers to make the Gallup list; yoga instructors, and professional surfers could possibly have higher scores, as well as child-care workers, especially if they’re assigned to the active 2- and 3-year old rooms.

The new findings come from more than 170,000 interviews conducted in 2012 of US workers age 18 or older.

Despite the notion that sales work can fit around people’s lives, sales people’s health index was below most other careers, partly because of low levels of calisthenics and kale. Obesity was a bigger problem for people in transportation and manufacturing fields.

Gallup has twice said that doctors are in better health and make healthier choices than general population.

If you’re wondering which occupations have the longest lifespans, professionals like accountants, teachers and nurses can expect to live long after 65, according to the BBC’s report based on UK statistics. Truck drivers’ life expectancy is 61, which is 16 years shorter than the US average.

Follow Vickie Elmer on Twitter @WorkingKind. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

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