You never see them in calendars, but there are obese firefighters - and they don't get told to lose weight by their doctors.

As we all know, there are many healthy obese people, the notion that BMI is some magic button for diabetic and cardiovascular health has long been debunked. Regardless of their appearance, firefighters are trained to do a job. Can't pass training and you don't get to do the job. Yet firefighters do have high rates of obesity, compared to the nature of the job, and like the general public, heart attacks kill more firefighters than doing their job will.

For that reason, scholars from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) say not advising firefighters on the importance of maintaining a healthy weight is putting them at risk.

The authors used data on self-reported HCP weight recommendations and measured BMI from a 2011–2012 national sample of male firefighters. HCP recommendations were recorded as no advice, maintain, gain, or lose weight, and BMI was categorized as normal, overweight, class I obese, and class II or III obese. We used multinomial logistic regression to estimate the odds of receiving weight advice by age and BMI categories.

Most firefighters (96 percent) reported visiting an HCP in the past year. Most (69 percent) firefighters and 48 percent of class I to III obese firefighters reported receiving no weight advice. Higher BMI predicted HCP advice to lose weight. Younger firefighters were less likely to receive weight loss advice than older firefighters, except among those who were class II or III obese.