Police

And the Award for Fattest American Workers Goes to… Cops

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instantvantage/Flickr

I want to start this post with an admission: I have never seen a cop eating a donut in my life. I've always considered the stereotype—kind of like calling cops "pigs"—a cultural relic that's last relevancy will die along with the boomer generation. I've never even taken cops to be a particularly tubby bunch. 

But on that last account, I am woefully wrong, according to recent research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Using data from 2010, researchers looked at the average body mass index (BMI)—a height to weight ratio used as shorthand for measuring body size—for a range of occupations in the United States.

Overall, 27.7 percent of U.S. workers met the criterion for obesity, defined as having a BMI of 30 or above. For police officers, firefighters, and security guards, however, this jumps to 40.7 percent. Other highly obese occupations include social workers, clergy, and counselors (35.6 percent); home health aides and massage therapists (34.8 percent); architects and engineers (34.1 percent); and bus drivers, truckers, crane operators, and garbage collectors (32.8 percent).

Interestingly, America's fattest professions span the socioeconomic gamut—as do the least obese categories. Occupations with the least obese workers included janitors, maids, and landscapers (23.5 percent); cooks, bartenders, and food servers (23.1 percent); physicians, dentists, EMTs, and nurses (22 percent); artists, actors, athletes, and reporters (20.1 percent); and economists, scientists, and psychologists (14.2 percent). 

One caveat, however: body mass index is never a perfect formula for ascertaining obesity, and it can be a particularly bad measure for people with a lot of muscle mass. I've known very fit, athletic men and women whose BMIs place them in the obese category. (For instance, a 6 foot man who weighed 221 pounds would be considered obese.) If we want to be charitable, or perhaps just realistic, there's a good chance that many of our "fat" firefighters and cops actually aren't. 

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  1. “I’m not fat I’m big boned.”

  2. Most cops around here look like they’re on steroids.

    1. probably because they are. LEOs are a dichotomy – you have the dun-lap type and you have the wanna-be Mr Universe.

      1. Mr Universe the naked surfer who has Morgan Fairchild for a sex slave.

        Booya smooches

  3. If we want to be charitable

    I don’t think we are going to see any of that.

    BMI, to me, is a lot like IQ tests: it has all sort of problems around the edges, but the bulk of the conclusions are pretty spot on. Or is there really no noticeable difference between a dinner companion with a 120 IQ and one with a 70 IQ?

    1. Agreed completely. I hate when people say BMI is useless because it’s not perfect on an individual level. It has problems, but it’s a useful tool

      1. It was designed as a measure for populations – so it seems they are using it as intended in this case.

        It does suck as an individual measure – it gets used that way because it’s easy to derive from height and weight measurements that are typically recorded anyway.

        If obesity level matters to you, spend the money and get body fat measured.

    2. Or is there really no noticeable difference between a dinner companion with a 120 IQ and one with a 70 IQ?

      I’m usually too drunk to pick up on such subtleties

      1. so what time shall I pick you up?

        1. Make sure you bring a couple of bottles of shiraz.

    3. BMI is based on the assumption that weight is proportional to the square of height, in contradiction of the square-cube law.

      Not suprisingly, this makes it completely useless for anyone who is unusually tall or unusually short.

  4. I choose to be uncharitable.

    1. I’ve never even taken cops to be a particularly tubby bunch.

      BMI is stupid, but there are many overweight police officers in the NYPD; Manhattan is full of them. Don’t worry, though, they are too busy posing for pictures for tourists and flirting with women to exercise.

      1. Even Norman Rockwell painted fat cops.

  5. (For instance, a 6 foot man who weighed 221 pounds would be considered obese.)

    Mine is 34. OBESE.

    Firefighters and cops will obviously tend to be stronger than normal jackoffs, and cops love them some anabolic steroids. I doubt they’re really that much fatter than Normals.

    1. I would imagine that a lot of it is the difference between street cops and the desk jockeys behind the scenes. Desk job ass spread is terrifyingly real.

      1. Tell me about it.

      2. True. Desk job pigs are probably about the same as any other normal office-dwelling fat fuck, and street cops probably have about the same BMI as any other active blue-collar jackoffs like construction workers.

        1. Next time I see SWAT patrolling Times Square with their M-4’s I’ll try to snap a picture to disabuse you of this notion. Even those fuckers are fat.

  6. Now, I’m no Police apologist. I thoroughly dislike Police and the main personality attracted by the profession but the BMI is a deeply flawed metric to use when measuring obesity.

    There are many, many police officers who should be more in shape…but for every clearly overweight cop i’ve seen, I’ve also seen a cop whose biceps have biceps (guys who spend way too much time in the gym). The BMI doesn’t take muscle mass into account. For a more accurate picture of health, body fat percentage should be applied.

    1. I’ve also seen a cop whose biceps have biceps (guys who spend way too much time in the gym).

      That, plus, ahem, better living through chemistry?

  7. So,their the fattest and have the highest rate of domestic violence? And they are still put on a pedestal?

    1. oh I left out the drinking,so fat,drunk wife beaters make up a large minority of law enforcement.

          1. =2

            1. *awards “Certificate of Achievement” ribbon*

              1. Just a ribbon? No trophy?

  8. ” I have never seen a cop eating a donut in my life. I’ve always considered the stereotype?kind of like calling cops “pigs”?a cultural relic that’s last relevancy will die along with the boomer generation.”

    About 5 years ago, I was driving home from my grandad’s house and stopped at a red light with a Krispy Kreme on one corner. A few seconds after I stopped they turned on the hot light. Before the light turned green six cop cars from four different departments pulled in to the parking lot.

    1. I was in the National Guard with lots of cops. Any time donuts where around we made the mandatory cop jokes – but they still ate them.

    2. When the cops shut down all of Boston to catch 2 guys last year, they made an exception for Dunkin’ Donuts.

  9. Had the same stupid BMI problem in the military. Guys who were short and / or lifted weights were almost always over the limit and had to deal with all kinds of bullshit. They should have just stuck with the fitness tests and not worried about weight as long as Soldiers and Marines could pass it.

    1. This^

      I have always thought that “Body Composition” standards were and are stupid. While the majority of overweight* soldiers are fitness test failures as well, the policy smacks of a show before go mentality that always pisses me off. If they can perform, who gives a damn if he or she doesn’t look as spiffy in their uniform as they could?

      * As determined by a ratio of height to the difference between their neck and waist circumference measurements.

    2. The BMI completely falls apart for the very short and very tall. I looked up my “ideal” BMI one time and just had to laugh. The last time I was that weight, I was 14, on the wrestling team, and sinewy as hell.

  10. “Occupations with the least obese workers included janitors, maids, and landscapers (23.5 percent); cooks, bartenders, and food servers (23.1 percent); physicians, dentists, EMTs, and nurses (22 percent); artists, actors, athletes, and reporters (20.1 percent); and economists, scientists, and psychologists (14.2 percent).”

    So that would seem to be workers in two categories: (a) poor people living on Ramen, and (b) people whose job exposes them to the consequences of obesity, and who therefore keep fit.

    1. Oh, and (3) people whose jobs involve exercise

      1. and, I guess, (4) people who are too busy to eat

        1. Look, I’m BSing here.

          1. For police officers and some of their obese kin, you left off the fact that the can be called to duty at a minutes notice and therefor have a greater professional excuse to cram a big mac in their pie hole.

            At least, that’s what always stands out to me in movies; cops who are in terrific shape but spend 3 nights a week at the precinct, all of last night on a stakeout and grabbed breakfast-lunch on their way to whatever crime they are/were surveying.

    2. cops spend much of their time sitting in cars,behind desks and at bars.

    3. 5) people who take lots of drugs (I”m thinking of the restaurant and entertainment industries especially)

  11. A lot of places like donut Shops and convenience stores give free coffee to cops as a policy. They tend to be high targets for robbery’s so if the more often they can get cop cars pulling in their parking lots the better for them.

    1. Wait, the coffee isn’t free for anyone else? Boy, am I in trouble.

    2. Yes, my friend used to own a liquor store, and he gave the cops a 10% discount on everything. The cops always came by throughout the day to say hello, and when he was closing up at night a cop always came by in a cruiser to sit in the parking lot until he got in his car and left safely. He said the discount was well worth the security he got.

  12. I’m going to posit that – like most stereotypes – there is some truth to this one. People didn’t just pull the image of a fat cop sitting at the donut counter out of thin air. Are all cops fat? Of course not. But living in NYC I see A LOT of cops and I can tell you a lot of them are fat. Perhaps we expect them to be in better shape and the fact that on average they aren’t is what makes the fat ones stick out.

    1. Yes. I would say it is more rare to see someone in the NYPD who does not have a bulging waistline.

    1. I have this sudden desire to travel.

    2. The last one was pretty funny, although I’m pretty sure that reaction makes me racist.

  13. Why are you spreading this anti-cop bull? I know from our realistic tv shows that cops, even the female kind, can outrun teenagers and can scale eight foot fences and gates better than most criminals they are chasing.

    1. Gibbs is a federal agent, not a cop, and he can do as he pleases, damnit.

      1. He’s lost with out Ziva,god she’s hot

    2. TJ could outrun a starship.

  14. Worked as a landscaper for a summer in my youth. I’m not a bit surprised they rank at the low end of the fat spectrum. That shit’s hard work…

    1. Yeah, my first jobs were as a line cook. You actually spend more time cleaning than cooking so pretty labor intesive as well.

      1. I could basically eat and drink whatever I wanted back then and never worry about gaining weight. Now I sit at a computer all day. Different story:)

        1. I know how that story goes. Put myself through college while working at restaurants (dish, prep, line, waiter), and was always in decent shape. Got my C.S. degree and now I’ve got a belly.

          1. Yeah, I remember those days too. I am like 70 or 80 pounds over my college weight which sounds awful except I was always, always hungry back then.

  15. I’d venture to say that the whole “bodybuilder” BMI exemption is more an exception than anything. I hear this line of reasoning all the time in the military by folks who claim to be a victim of the 38 inch waist MAXIMUM. Tall, short, ecto/endomorph, I don’t care how muscular you are, you can hold an abdominal vacuum under 38 inches. If you can’t, it’s due to the layer of fat on your midsection that needs to be rectified.

    **break**

    Between the shitty diet, poor exercise know-how, high cortisol, poor sleep, etc, they do suffer as an occupation unnecessarily in the body comp arena.
    At least one Police Chief
    has recognized it and is leading the charge.

    1. I’d venture to say that the whole “bodybuilder” BMI exemption is more an exception than anything.

      Based on anecdotal experience, not buying it. Pretty much everyone in my gym, including myself, is BMI overweight, and could run circles around 90% of the population. If you workout for strength, BMI is shit.

      1. What I meant was the bogus BMI alibi amongst cops, based on my anecdotal experience. Your anecdotal population is gym rats, I’m referring to the cop population which, well, isn’t.
        Again, going back to my experience, which involves having to kick people out of the military for being fat and/or unfit, the folks who howl the loudest about either BMI or waist measurements are either just fat or strong AND fat. Either way, their fat is their problem.

        1. No, BMI is just very badly broken and often very wrong.

          1. ?? Broken how? Its just a mathmatical formula, it’s not broken or ‘fixed’, it just ..is. The only thing wrong with it is people’s simplistic use of it without any further investigation. Just like ENB said in her last para. All I’m saying, again, is far too many people throw the “BMI is screwing me because of my muscle mass” card are often full of shit and in denial about their real body fat.

            1. As pointed out upthread, the real standard should be a performance examination. The qualifications should match the requirements of the job. BMI might correlate with mile times, but why not just put somebody on a track and time them? If you can run an 8-minute mile, your BMI is irrelevant, and if you can’t, then your BMI is still irrelevant.

              1. No argument from me for that approach.

  16. Here’s another fun statistic about police I include in any conversation about them: “In 2013, out of 900,000 sworn officers, just 100 died from a job-related injury. That’s about 11.1 per 100,000, or a rate of 0.01%.”
    http://fee.org/blog/detail/by-…..o-be-a-cop

  17. In NYC the physical and intelligence standards get lowered all the time in order to get more females and minorities on the job, so both jobs are going to continue getting fatter and dumber to appease the left.
    There was one last thing in the FDNY academy keeping complete shitbags off the job (FST) and our new commissioner has done away with that.

  18. Don’t people call them “pigs” because of Animal Farm and the whole thing with the pigs saying all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others?*

    And if that’s the case, I think they’ll be called pigs as long as we force kids to read that in high school.

    *I totally butchered that. Guess I should go back and read it again.

    1. If you thought the term pig arose in the 1960s, you’re in for a surprise. The OED cites an 1811 reference to a “pig” as a Bow Street Runner–the early police force, named after the location of their headquarters, before Sir Robert Peel and the Metropolitan Police Force (see above.) Before that, the term “pig” had been used as early as the mid-1500s to refer to a person who is heartily disliked.

      The usage was probably confined to the criminal classes until the 1960s, when it was taken up by protestors. False explanations for the term involve the gas masks worn by the riot police in that era, or the pigs in charge of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

      http://www.straightdope.com/co…..r-the-fuzz

      1. Huh, learn something new every day.

        Thanks!

  19. I looked at the paycheck that said $4961 , I accept …that…my neighbours mother woz like they say actually making money part-time on there computar. . there dads buddy haz done this for under twelve months and just cleared the loans on their house and purchased a brand new Nissan GT-R: .
    try this site and free register ——— http://www.jobsfish.com

  20. Retire the Black & Whites, and put them all back walking a beat.

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