Death Of Shipping Wars Star Shines Light On Trucker Health Issues


Trucker and beloved cast member of the A&E show “Shipping Wars,” Roy Garber, died of a heart attack on January 17th at the age of 49. His death at such a young age shines a sharp light on the ever-present, often-marginalized issue of driver health.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine this month warned that long-haul truck drivers showed a “constellation of chronic disease risk factors” including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. The study stated that truck drivers are twice as likely to be obese as the rest of the adult working population in the United States. Of the 1,700 long-haul drivers surveyed for the study, 69% were obese, and 17% were morbidly obese.

While it may come as a surprise that a man as skinny as Roy might die of a heart attack, it shows us that weight isn’t the only indicator of poor heart health. A full 88% of drivers surveyed had at least one risk factor for chronic disease.


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Source: overdrive

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37 comments. Add a comment.

  1. Jeff says

    and this has been going on since the beginning of time too…….why is it an issue now?

    Just like Cigarettes…….We knew they were bad since the 1960’s………

    why is it an issue nowadays with folks?

  2. says

    You both have valid points and honestly the biggest issue with many drivers on grabbing quick unhealthy food is because of the price with everything. Some guys are lucky and have the room for more food storage and get through home or by a Walmart quite regularly most of us on the other hand have to make do with what we can afford.

  3. Charles says

    If places like Pilot would quit pushing fast food and closing up all the Family resturaunts we would be a healthier.Everytime Pilot gets their hands on something they put in a subway/or buger place.

    • Alex says

      Closing up family restaurants? Pretty sure Flying J has Denny’s in them for the most part. Or some sort of sitdown restaurant otherwise.

  4. John says

    They bring up overweight in this article and say Roy was skinny but NO ONE mentions he SMOKED!
    He had heart disease, (I read that in an article about his death), but he still smoked. I know cigarettes can be an addiction, it took me a long time to stop. That probably was the greatest contribution to Roy’s death, let alone the food drivers eat, the weird hours/sleeping patterns, etc.

  5. Zack says

    My neighbor ran 10 miles a day, was a committed vegan, and never touched alcohol. He died of a heart attack at 43. My uncle looked like a fitness but next to my neighbor…his died of a stroke at 45. I know five drivers that have had to move their seat mounts back to fit their giant guts behind the wheel, all over 55.

  6. Jeff says

    I believe its Hereditary…..too

    Like I asked before, Why are things like this an Issue Now?

    Why wasnt this an issue in the 1960’s 70′ 80′ and part of the 90’s??

    The Government wants to take away your rights to live your life any way you choose…

  7. Paul says

    I agree with Ray’s assessment of truck stops. If the food can cause high blood pressure or obesity, (soda, candy, hot dogs, etc) it is cheap, if it has any nutritional value and does not cause obesity and high blood pressure,(fruit, salads, etc) it is expensive.

  8. T Wade says

    Taking out the heredity part of being overweight and the reasons that truck drivers, or any one in this case, are overweight is because they elect not to exercise and eat too many calories. I have seen drivers walk or run around a truck stop parking lot, so it can be done, and you fat butts setting in your truck, on your fat butt, are on the CB making fun of them. To be fair, that driver that was running, are making fun of your fat butts as you waddle across the parking lot.

    Portion control and increasing your activities everyday will cause a lose of weight, you have to find the right amount of portion and activities that will cause you to lose weight. One weight reduction plan does not fit all. You are overweight because of your choices not the job you do. You now have an extra half hour everyday to walk around your truck or a parking lot.

  9. Barb says

    Here’s my 2 cents for what its worth a person cant always blame everyone else just like with anything else life is about choices. Yes there are drivers so big I’m surprised they haven’t put a smaller steering wheel in their truck, but a lot of them make the choice to block fuel lanes so that they don’t have to walk across the parking lot. There is always something on the menu or in the trk stop that is healthier for you it is all about choices. There are so many people trying to make rules about things they don’t even know ….. hadies I bet at least half of them have never even drove a truck.

  10. Robert says

    I not considered by any standard perfect. I smoke and I have an extra 20 pounds I could do without.

    It’s not easy to eat wisely while otr, we all know that. You’re hungry, have no time for a sit down meal and there’s plenty of convenience food available to eat while driving. I chose to pre-cook and freeze meals while I was at home. Lots of chicken, cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs, etc. Anything I thought would keep until I made it home again which was every 6 weeks or so. I know not all trucks have freezers but I bought a small fridge and had it modified it so the whole unit was a freezer. I kept a cooler for milk, juice, etc. which I could replenish while otr.

    If I ran out, there was always a Walmart around to buy a cooked chicken at the deli or whatever. Not the healthiest but way better than McD’s or Wendy’s…. I would “treat” myself to one of them once a week, though.

    It’s all about choices and I have no trouble allowing anyone to do as they please. They know the risk. I always try and remember that there are not many over-weight senoir citizens and that kept me in line most of the time.

    We’ve all seen the big guys climbing in and out of their rigs with the butt’s hanging out. After the intitial humor passes I would wish my brothers (and sisters btw) would realize how short their lives are going to be and I sympathize(sp?) with their families.

  11. Lance Newcomb says

    I have seen drivers show over 500lbs when they walk over the truck scale, one fully occupy two chairs in the drivers lounge while eating a large pizza to himself, many with slits in their shirts from rubbing the steering wheel and one driver we actually had to use the FORKLIFT to help upright when he fell over.

    Its a personal choice, but how can somebody go about life with 400lbs of useless bulk and not think its a bad thing that needs to be corrected? My uncle is one of the healthiest truckers I know, he rides his bicycle whenever he has to go someplace in his off time and he is constantly working around his 80 acres in Oklahoma when he is home.

    I’m only 250lbs at 6’4″ and I barely passed my DOT medical for blood pressure (they would only give me a 1 year card), how can these 400lb+ people pass theirs unless they’re going to some backwoods “clinic” and paying somebody off?

    • ben says

      Thanks lance this is going on my 41 year driving and I don’t know how half pass there dot have found a great gym we also use a lot of them are truck friendly and locations and price are great for otr drivers . 3 days aweek to gym then 3 days riding or jogging and still take nothing but vitamins and 75% of meals fixed in truck salads etc . But its always easier to complain about why they can’t do it then figure out how they can get it done . Oh if anyone interested gym name is planet fitness

    • Jeff says

      Lance, just because someone is overweight doesn’t automqagically mean they will have hight blood pressure. Mine is in the normal range, and I’m way too fat.

      • Creedmore Sharps says

        Blood pressure? Better living through modern chemistry. Lisinopril. 10mg per day. For the rest of my life, thanks to my previous career’s stress levels. I’ve lost weight ( 12# )since I started this job 6 months ago. Eat better. Snack frequently on celery and carrot sticks I bring from home or buy at Wally World. Couple handfuls of almonds and a couple cheese sticks. Drink a lot of water. It’s not a lot, but it can be done. Just choose to do it if you are medically capable. Some folks aren’t.

  12. Mercenary man says

    Truckers are put into the time crunch box daily, Shippers, Recievers, Dispatchers…people that dont plan well or a disaster and whose there to rescue you, DRIVERS…we give of our Life, our family time, we depend on the ROAD to provide what we need, Look in any truckstop today and you find every snack food known to mankind, every brand of soda, where is the salad bar, the fresh deli, the Hot food, the Grill where I can order skinless chicken and rice and vegetables…it barely exists…. yet the SAFETY crowd wants to point at my belly and blame it on crashes and statistics…what a bunch of hogwash…THE BLAME lies squarely on the INDUSTRY..who doesnt provide us with safe places to rest, quiet times to unwind and leave the stress behind, Most drivers never complain, they do the job….But the Industry is at fault, were here feeding our familys and you want to pile statistics upon us and make us out to be unsafe, unhealthy, so YOU wont have to spend a dime….
    Well the Safe Drivers who were older have had it with this “NEW” regimen, its now up to the non english speaking young recruits who graduate thru the pay to drive systems…..Ive never had a wreck, a ticket, a freight claim…never fallen asleep behind the wheel, never had a UNSAFE moment…yet you point your finger at my belly and claim Im the reson the industry has Issues….HOGWASH…..Look in the Mirror MR FMCSA….Look in the mirror…

  13. Brian says

    After 30 yrs in 48 states .I gave it up .Not by choice but Multiple Sclerosis.. Companies and the go’vt are always trying to weed out the old timers( see the new physical requirements).. get the rookies in, they will be scared of their jobs and run exactly as they are told to And for 15-20 cpm cheaper than the old hands…And when they wreck and tear up equipment, fire them and bring in the new class fresh out of orientation..
    Ask any old timer “Ain’t deregulation wonderful?”

  14. Rae says

    It is sad that Roy Garber passed away so young. Praying for his family and friends!!! He was an awesome truck driver for many years! He was a heavy smoker which definitely contributed to his heart attack and death. As for truck driving and food choices that is up to the driver. I can honestly say that my team partner and I have both lost weight while being truck drivers. Because we have made the CHOICE to eat healthier meals when on the road instead of all the junk foods. Plus we split meals so that we are eating less calories. We also keep granola bars, fruit, veggies, beef jerky, oatmeal, & other healthy snack options on the truck. We keep several gallons of water on the truck to drink. So much cheaper and healthier than sugary sodas! We eat Subway a lot and grilled chicken and fish from restaurants. We stay away from the fried foods too.

  15. Jenine says

    Time and money have a lot to do with the health of the drivers. If they are lucky enough to have time to sit down to eat and/or have an option to choose a healthy meal at an affordable price, most think they are having a pretty good day. Most drivers do not have the luxury of this. Most are stressed for time, don’t have the proper sleep or rest and do not have the proper facilities at the times they may need them. Some companies have insurance accessible if the trucker needs it, but some do not. Either way they would have to have money for it and be at the doctors office on a certain day when they don’t know when they will even make it home. Schedules are very hard for them to make. Genetics has a part to do with it to and the choices they make. But live the life of a trucker for one month and it will open your eyes up to a lot of flaws that if changed would help them or at least make it possible for them to have a choice. Feeding their family and paying their bills comes first for the majority of them. We as people need to remember that it is thier job, but they are so underappreciated at what they do for us. We tend to expect items to be at certain places when we go to buy them or use them. However, who brought them there to begin with. As a nurse I see the issues a little more. But, having a father that was a trucker that died in his when I was nine and a wife of another, can see what others might not.
    I send out my condolences to the families that have lost someone do to these circumstances and to the family of Roy….I will miss watching him ship his loads.

  16. Jenine says

    And by the way, my family members driving trucks are not and my father was not obese. Unfortunately genetics played the roll in that death.

  17. Bilbo Baggins says

    Let’s not forget diabetes. It’s been know to force a lot of insulin dependent drivers off the road. While we don’t know if diabetes is caused by heredity or by fatso drivers eating unhealthy, it can kill if undiagnosed. Fortunately, they caught my diabetes in time.

  18. Angelo says

    I did a search and read the whole story. First off his photos look like he is skinny. Also, he had a heart condition. Why this goes into about drivers obesity has anything to do with this dude that died I don’t know.

  19. Brett says

    To those of you making statements of truck stops & healthy eating practices here is food for thought, do not eat fast food, ‘Boycott’ the garbage they are serving, unload you junk food/soft drink habit also quit buying all the over priced impulse candy/chips. Then inform the management you are going down the road to either the supermarket or sit down restaurant.
    I carried a single burner (Butane cartridge) stove, camp coffee pot, an 12 inch skillet cooking outside my truck for most of the time between 1979 till 2003 when I came off OTR. Other times I prepared beef, chicken, baked potatoes on the engine out of my cooler. Ate like a king with veggies, lettuce and anything else just like at home or more like the campsite. All the while being satisfied only snacking on apples, oranges, celery or carrots and on occasion nut type trail mix I made at home before leaving. My food cost for a 5 1/2 day run now get this $25 to $30 eating two cooked meals every day and my pre made lunch and snacks before the start of my day. My weight remained within 8-10 pounds of 223 at 8% body fat. Making time to walk and some basic exercise daily unless locale and weather proved to be problematic.
    My athletic geared grandfather (all his life) experienced three heart attacks while eating healthy so he thought. Doc said it was brought on by some unknown physical stress on an International vacation trip.
    Only way I look at it is don’t swim with sharks if it can be avoided. Learn more, work smarter, eat better and for crying out load! Park that truck where you can (with common sense) and walk in, do some daily exercise. Best of luck, drivers.

  20. Rob says

    Is this any surprise? The way the HOS are set up now it is almost impossible to eat sensibly for starters. No flexibility on break times etc etc.

  21. Bear says

    Speaking of truckstop food, is it just me or is everything on the menu swimming in gravy?

    I have not been able to use a Petro/TA gym, simply because the access point NEVER WORKS!!! walking or jogging around the parking lot is a great idea, at least until some rooster comes screaming through the lot at 35mph, not even caring if they hit something or not. I cant tell you how many times last month I called the saftey offices of 5 companies to let them know of the high speed-Low Drag morons.

    Now with the CSA enforcers not even knowing what they are doing, I ask you this:

    Is it worth it anymore?

  22. bamabulldog says

    There is no excuse not to exercise during the 10 hour break there are many body weight exercises and walking it’s called being lazy

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