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Two-thirds of Belgian fire-fighters are overweight

While the popular perception is that fire-fighters have a high-level of fitness and keep themselves in trim, a new study has revealed that in Belgium at least two thirds of fire-fighters are overweight. Meanwhile, one in five is even classed as being obese. The figures come from a report compiled for the country’s fire services on behalf of the external prevention service IDEWE. The study forms the basis on an article on the website of the daily newspaper ‘Het Nieuwsblad’.       

Medical data on Belgium’s 3,702 firemen and 181 firewomen shows that 64% have a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 30. This is enough for them to be classed as being overweight. Meanwhile, 19% had a BMI in excess of 30, making them obese.    

The Leuven University Professor of Occupational medicine Lode Godderis believes that the figures are very high. Professor Godderis told the paper “A good physical condition and a healthy weight are important for someone that has to carry someone out from a flat via the steps during a fire”.

He calls for the issue of firefighters weight to be addressed by for example organising physical as well as technical exercises for firemen and women. However, this could prove difficult to implement as many fire-fighters work as volunteers.