Date of Award
Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences
Objective: This project aimed to examine the impact of nutrition knowledge, dietary intake, and physical activity on firefighters’ performance on their routine physical assessment (RPA).
Methodology: Members of the Unified Fire Authority, the largest fire agency in Utah with more than 400 sworn firefighters serving 15 communities representing 440,000 residents, were invited via email to participate in this cross-sectional study. Participants (N=92) completed a 40- question survey that assessed specialized diet adherence, dietary intake, nutrition knowledge (using questions from the General Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire;1 point for each correct answer [26 points possible]), regular physical activity (International Physical Activity Questionnaire), and perceived physical performance on their RPA. Based on their responses, participants were categorized into one of two groups: High Performance (performed exceptionally well/very well) and Lower Performance (performed moderately well/slightly well/not well at all). Chi Squared Distributions and Independent t-tests were used to assess group differences. Statistical significance was set at p<0.05.
Results: More High Performance firefighters reported eating ≥5 servings of fruits and vegetables (29.2% vs 10.8%, p=0.04) than Lower Performance firefighters. There were no significant differences in prevalence of vigorous physical activity (12.1% vs 17.8%, p=0.27), prevalence of following a specific diet (27.1% vs 21.6%, p=0.57), or nutrition knowledge score (18.7 vs 18.2, p=0.49) when comparing High Performance and Lower Performance firefighters.
Conclusions: High Performance firefighters had a higher prevalence of fruit and vegetable consumption. Diet quality, including intake of fruits and vegetables, should be an included strategy for firefighters wishing to improve their physical performance. Future studies should use interviews and lab-based assessments to further assess factors that may influence firefighters’ performance on RPAs.
Easton, Marin, "A Study on the Impact of Diet on Unified Fire Authority Firefighter Performance" (2022). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 930.
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