Skip to main content
Start of main content.

Police eat too much fat and protein, not enough carbs

The portly police officer munching on doughnuts is a well-worn stereotype.

Now the authors of a series of studies suggest poor diet not only puts tactical personnel at risk, it could lead to negative interactions with the public.

“We already know police officers are two to five times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease due to the nature of the job and the stress they are under,” said Dr Rob Orr, Director of Bond University’s Tactical Research Unit

“Their diets can be further increasing this risk.”

Dr Orr said food - or lack of it - affected concentration and mood.

“We even have a well-used term for it - hangry,” he said.

“How will that impact on an officer making an arrest? Are they more likely to be easily aggravated, upset and make suboptimal decisions?

“A poor interaction with a person of interest may have nothing to do with police training. If they aren’t eating well, they won’t perform at the optimal level.”

The systematic review of 22 previous studies found tactical personnel in general ate too much protein and fat, and not enough sources of energy and carbohydrate.

“There is a body of research around carbohydrate intake, mood and cognition,” said the study’s lead author, Assistant Professor Kristen MacKenzie-Shalders from the Master of Nutrition and Dietetic Practice Program at Bond University.

“If there are long periods where these officers are not optimising their carbohydrate intake, this can impact mood, how they think and their decision-making in an environment in which you already have a high risk.”

Dr Orr, an Associate Professor of Physiotherapy, said most law enforcers knew they should eat healthier food but sometimes found that challenging.

“For a lot of these officers, their vehicle is their office and that creates a major obstacle to good nutrition,” he said.

“If you are in a car for eight hours, that is not conducive to a healthy diet.

“There are other factors. They are in a stressful environment or may be confronted with a stressful situation, such as domestic violence, and eating can be a coping strategy.

“After long and exhausting shifts officers may simply be too tired to cook and grab something convenient on the way home.”

Bond University is working with Oklahoma State University, California State University, Fullerton, and Texas A&M University - as well as Australian tactical agencies - to profile the diets of tactical personnel and eliminate barriers to better nutrition.

The research has been published in the journals Nutrients and BMC Public Health.

More from Bond

  • A homecoming for Hedger

    Former director of rugby and senior coach Sean Hedger is back at The Canal in an assistant coach role.

    Read article
  • A black belt and white coat the dual goals for this Bondy

    Samir Zarrouki spends his time flexing muscles in Jiu Jitsu and learning how to treat them in his Doctor of Physiotherapy studies.    

    Read article
  • Big-screen break for BUFTA winner Benjamin

    The Best Overall Filmmaker for BUFTA 2023 was awarded to Benjamin Rosenberg from Toowoomba Grammar School. Benjamin also won both the Comedy and Documentary categories.

    Read article
  • Double agent Delany's unique insight as player and manager

    Too much footy is never enough for Riewoldt family AFL Excellence Scholarship graduate Edward Delany who splits his time between playing for Collingwood in the VFL and working in player management.

    Read article
  • QAFL star joins the Bull Sharks

    QAFL premiership player and former Queensland State Representative Kain Ford will be a playing assistant coach in 2024.

    Read article
Previous Next