Weight management program for first responders: Feasibility study and lessons learned

Gerald J. Jerome, Peter J. Lisman, Arlene T. Dalcin, Austin Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Overweight and obesity are significant concerns for first responders (firefighters and emergency medical service providers). OBJECTIVE: This pilot study examines the feasibility of a weight loss program for career first responders. METHODS: Participants were career first responders with BMI≥30 and interest in losing weight. Baseline height, weight, and body composition using dual X-ray absorptiometry, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) with follow-up weight and body composition were assessed. A 10-week weight loss program used evidence-based lifestyle goals (encouraged increasing activity levels, using tailored calorie goals, following the DASH diet, tracking with a phone app) and weekly in-person sessions with a student coach-in-training who reviewed weight and tracking information. RESULTS: Participants (N = 10) were 39.0±9.9 years old with a BMI of 35.6±4.7 kg/m2. There were significant reductions in weight-4.8±2.3 kg and percent body fat-3.9±1.7%. All participants had a PSQI score >5 indicating poor quality of sleep. Nine participants had FMS scores ≤14 indicating increased risk of injury. CONCLUSION: The use of commercially available apps with support from a student coach-in-training and evidence-based weight loss recommendations is a feasible approach to support career firefighters in their weight loss efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-166
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • EMS
  • Obesity
  • firefighter
  • functional movement screen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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