Why are ATCs so overweight?

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46
Sorry for the clickbait title.

I read this study online (done on Brazilian ATCs)


Conclusion
This study concluded that the group of ATC studied is overweight, has excess body fat, has elevated blood pressure, and is physically inactive, suggesting increased risk for chronic non-transmittable diseases. The sleep analysis showed significant sleep deprivation caused by working night and morning shifts, compromising worker performance, health, and quality of life. Perceptions of quality of life were found to be more negative, mainly in terms of physical aspects and social relations. Thus, actions to ensure a minimum of 6 hours of rest before the nightshift were associated with establishing awareness and adequacy of work environments to stimulate physical activity and healthy eating habits.

What do you guys think? Is it because alcohol is one of your few ways to de-stress allowed? Is it the insane sleep schedule?

What would you guys estimate as the average ATC's life expectancy?

Would love to know your guys' input (and anecdotes if you have any)
 
Messages
46
It said right there in the conclusion: physically inactive.

You can't sit down in front of a scope all day then go home and sit your ass on the couch while cracking open a beer.

I know, but why are rates in this job so much higher?
An average office worker can just as easily avoid being overweight by NOT drinking a beer at home and just doing mild/moderate exercise. I assume an ATC can do as much as well.

Is it the stress?
 

FightingIrish2012

Forum Sage
Messages
885
I think there are a lot of variances with this, it is true that a significant portion of the workforce are obese lazy people, you see this more commonly in the small facilities. But there are also a higher percentage of physical machines then most workforces have too. Lots of former soldiers who never lost their commitment to fitness and discipline, people are big facilities who workout out during and after their shifts as the place has a gym, women who mastered the career and have lots of downtime for yoga, fad diets, etc..... So you almost have a athlete for every fat ass who mailed in ever exercising again and eat steak or lobster 5 times a week with their level 12 pay.

Alcoholism and stress play a role too I'm sure but I think this is a very small role comparable to other careers. But this is a interesting point, there is no doubt a large part of the workforce is obese with no intention of changing, just be aware there are lots of people in superb shape too, so I guess this career certainly has more extremes and less "middle class" average fitness people then other industries.

Does anyone remember the short lived rumor from a few years ago that anyone with a BMI over 30-something would automatically fail their next physical until they were screened for sleep apnea? That has hilarious, scared the shit out of a lot of people I worked with.
 

spider

Forum Sage
Messages
351
The sleep schedule doesn’t help but honestly, I feel like most people who get hired are the same 10 years later. The obese were obese when they got here and the fit are still fit or mostly fit.

I think stress is way overrated in this job. Training is stressful, people looking in from the outside can see it as stressful but if you’re checked out then the only people who talk about stress are the people who suck.
 
Messages
46
I think there are a lot of variances with this, it is true that a significant portion of the workforce are obese lazy people, you see this more commonly in the small facilities. But there are also a higher percentage of physical machines then most workforces have too. Lots of former soldiers who never lost their commitment to fitness and discipline, people are big facilities who workout out during and after their shifts as the place has a gym, women who mastered the career and have lots of downtime for yoga, fad diets, etc..... So you almost have a athlete for every fat ass who mailed in ever exercising again and eat steak or lobster 5 times a week with their level 12 pay.

Alcoholism and stress play a role too I'm sure but I think this is a very small role comparable to other careers. But this is a interesting point, there is no doubt a large part of the workforce is obese with no intention of changing, just be aware there are lots of people in superb shape too, so I guess this career certainly has more extremes and less "middle class" average fitness people then other industries.

Does anyone remember the short lived rumor from a few years ago that anyone with a BMI over 30-something would automatically fail their next physical until they were screened for sleep apnea? That has hilarious, scared the shit out of a lot of people I worked with.
This is interesting, thanks! I guess you phrased it beter- why there are more extremes in the career (and more people are weighted towards obesity)
 

Josephml21

Forum Sage
Messages
424
I'm not going to be shamed into a healthier lifestyle. If I want to come home from the mid and have a beer and some pizza rolls at 5am then so be it!

Plus I'm sure someone will cut my break lines before I take myself out. It will either be some young guy looking to move up in seniority or one of the old dudes I bust on because they keep telling the same atc war stories over and over.
 

AnyTrafficPleaseAdvise

Trusted Contributor
Messages
207
Just from my point of view, the job can be mentally taxing especially while in training. As a result, the day can wear on people and make it more difficult to be physically active after a shift. So do the math: A sedentary, yet exhausting, job, plus a lack of physical activity outside of work, and an irregular sleep schedule = great recipe for obesity. I know people who eat out at restaurants every day of the week for lunch and with a 40 or 50 minute lunch break they’re generally limited to fast food options. That only accelerates the weight gain.
 

DankVectorz

Legendary Member
FAA
Messages
1,488
Facility
N90 New York Tracon
I think the biggest issue preventing the “physical activity” is the rotating shifts. Makes getting into a routine almost impossible. Combined with the sleep deprivation makes one too tired to go to the gym or for a hike and you just want to come home and decompress for an hour or 2.
 

vectorwagon

Trusted Contributor
Messages
174
The sleep schedule doesn’t help but honestly, I feel like most people who get hired are the same 10 years later. The obese were obese when they got here and the fit are still fit or mostly fit.

I think stress is way overrated in this job. Training is stressful, people looking in from the outside can see it as stressful but if you’re checked out then the only people who talk about stress are the people who suck.
And about this job being “stressful”, honestly it’s dealimg with management and other controllers is where the stress comes from. The job has a pressure to perform, which I suppose could have an element of stress, but “zomgstresssssss” isn’t really a thing, even when it’s busy, at least in my opinion.
 

Peter Gibbons

Legendary Member
FAA
Messages
1,012
Facility
OKC Oklahoma City Tower
The rotating shifts have a lot to do with it I think. It can be a real struggle getting into a routine, along with the lack of sleep already making you tired (now let me throw down some pre-workout to get thru that 4pm gym session after my quick turn 7, that'll help me get to sleep at a reasonable tonight for my 545 tmw!), combined with less than healthy chow runs, and stuff just laying around in the break room, followed by going home and slamming a few beers before bed. It's all a recipe for being a big fat fuck if you don't force yourself to exercise.

Also I guess if you are at a level 5 in bumfuck you are also more likely to be in a flyover state food desert with dollar general cereal and ramen as your only food options outside of McDonald's. You have to be at a center with a gym and an attached whole foods to be a fine physical specimen.... only alpha level 12 controllers work out! cip is a scam to pay for crossfit! (did I stir the pot adequately or do I need to lay it on thicker?)
 

YouAppearToBeOnFire

Trusted Contributor
Messages
259
I'm not ATC (maybe one day I'll escape tier 2 pergatory). Though being military and having worked swing shift for 2 years. A lot of individuals with poor health lack knowledge on how to improve their situation. Whether lack of nutrition knowledge or how to even work out properly.

It takes discipline to plan food and exercise around a crap work schedule meanwhile balancing a home/social life. A lot of people don't want to prioritize going to the gym before/after work. Though I can say regardless of military, swing shift or desk job with diligence it's never effected my physical health.

However, I would say it would be especially difficult given the stress of ATC. ATC is one of the most stressful jobs one can choose to do which most of you already know.

The math is pretty simple. If you're concerned about your health or developing health issues look at the small things that add up and how you can make lasting results. Small goals lead to big gains in the health world. If everyday you go to work, go home and have a beer, eat, sleep and repeat. You're going to have high body fat, be susceptible to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

That being said don't look at diets as having to lose weight or become a complete lifestyle change. IIFYM (if it fits your macros) is a plan that works for most people and would be a quality step. It doesn't require a lifestyle change or removing any foods from your diet (including alcohol). You don't even count calories directly, you count carbs, proteins and fat. Realistically it's mostly portion control. Small changes add up quickly.

If you want extra results, add an exercise regime. Always lift weights. Increases in lean muscle means your body burns more calories allowing for more intake and lower body fat.
 

spider

Forum Sage
Messages
351
And about this job being “stressful”, honestly it’s dealimg with management and other controllers is where the stress comes from. The job has a pressure to perform, which I suppose could have an element of stress, but “zomgstresssssss” isn’t really a thing, even when it’s busy, at least in my opinion.

I recently heard a guy tell a new trainee, "You can tell on your crew those who can hold their own weight and those you have to carry. Don't be that guy."

Also I guess if you are at a level 5 in bumfuck you are also more likely to be in a flyover state food desert with dollar general cereal and ramen as your only food options outside of McDonald's. You have to be at a center with a gym and an attached whole foods to be a fine physical specimen.... only alpha level 12 controllers work out! cip is a scam to pay for crossfit! (did I stir the pot adequately or do I need to lay it on thicker?)

It's Thursday night at 12's -- we know what that means! It's T-Bone Thursdays and be sure to join tomorrow night for Filet Mignon Fridays! Servers will begin taking orders at 5PM and serving until 11!
 

Phillyman2633

Legendary Member
Messages
817
I think the biggest issue preventing the “physical activity” is the rotating shifts. Makes getting into a routine almost impossible. Combined with the sleep deprivation makes one too tired to go to the gym or for a hike and you just want to come home and decompress for an hour or 2.
I usually decompress by coming home and beating my dog, which is a surprisingly adequate physical activity. Kill two birds with one stone, as it were.
 

FightingIrish2012

Forum Sage
Messages
885
The rotating shifts have a lot to do with it I think. It can be a real struggle getting into a routine, along with the lack of sleep already making you tired (now let me throw down some pre-workout to get thru that 4pm gym session after my quick turn 7, that'll help me get to sleep at a reasonable tonight for my 545 tmw!), combined with less than healthy chow runs, and stuff just laying around in the break room, followed by going home and slamming a few beers before bed. It's all a recipe for being a big fat fuck if you don't force yourself to exercise.

Also I guess if you are at a level 5 in bumfuck you are also more likely to be in a flyover state food desert with dollar general cereal and ramen as your only food options outside of McDonald's. You have to be at a center with a gym and an attached whole foods to be a fine physical specimen.... only alpha level 12 controllers work out! cip is a scam to pay for crossfit! (did I stir the pot adequately or do I need to lay it on thicker?)

I don’t buy this rotating schedule thing contributes to obesity, if you work Evening, Evening, Day, Day, Mid it is almost the same schedule each week, not 9 to 5pm each day but just as easy to design a routine for. Unless by rotating schedules you mean rotating days off and shifts that do radically change each week. In that case the facility needs to grow up and get rid of rotating days off moving to permanent days off like most of the agency finally have. By some interpretations of the contract those old rotating days off schedule are illegal but the contract anyway.
 
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