LOUGHBOROUGH, England, July 6 (UPI) -- About half of British firefighters are overweight and 13 percent are clinically obese, but the numbers are not as bad as in the United States, researchers say.
Loughborough University researchers checked 735 male firefighters to measure their body mass index and body composition in 2008. They found 11 percent were obese and 54 percent were overweight, the same firefighters were checked in 2011 and found the obesity rate rose to 13 percent, but those overweight dropped to 53 percent, The Daily Telegraph reported.
"Given the negative implications of obesity for performance, there is a need for further investment in health promotion research and practice," the researchers wrote in the journal Occupational Medicine. "Previous research in the United States found nearly half of all on-duty deaths among firefighters are caused by heart disease."
A Fire Brigades Union spokesman said a lack of younger recruits in recent years might help account for the older and larger firefighters and body mass index is not an accurate measurement of fitness, because a very muscular person could be classified as overweight or obese.
"All 56 fire services in the United Kingdom now have fitness policies in place to monitor the health of firefighters," the spokesman told the newspaper.