Firemen are known for their bravery, their cooking skills and their brotherhood. Now they may also be known for having one more thing in common: a weight issue.

A new study reveals that 70 percent of firefighters in the U.S. are either overweight or obese and no one within the fire fighting industry is helping them battle the bulge.

"It's a true missed opportunity for doing prevention in this very high risk group," says Dr. Sue Day is an associate professor of epidemiology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health who was involved in the study.

The research team believes most firefighters, especially those in the younger ranks, are not getting needed guidance and support to lose weight.

"Obesity is a major threat to firefighter health and safety," the researchers wrote in Preventing Chronic Disease, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study reports firefighters have high rates of obesity and heart issues and the combination may be leading to causes of line-of-duty death. This most recent study involved data from 1,002 male fighter fighters. 

In polling firefighters for the research the report notes that nearly half of the firefighters who had a doctor visit in the past year were not advised about how to lose weight.

"There are a lot of firefighters who are in great shape," but many are not, said Day. "Bigger doesn't always mean stronger, there's a difference between fitness and being big."

The news comes on the heels of continual studies regarding obesity in the U.S., especially among young children.

Day is hopeful that greater publicity about the issue will prompt firefighting divisions to provide firefighters with resources and advice on keeping within a healthy weight range.

"We need to get these 20 year-olds who are overweight and obese and begin there," she said.

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