Healthy Trucking: The importance of engaging drivers in the National Diabetes Prevention Program

The National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) is geared toward preventing or delaying the development of type 2 diabetes in adults by focusing on healthy eating, getting active, and stress management. UnidosUS has partnered with the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) to ensure those most at risk, including Latinos—who face a higher than average risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes—have knowledge of and access to this evidence-based lifestyle change program.

Professional drivers are one of the skilled groups whose health is affected by their work environment. The long driving hours and prolonged sitting required of the occupation place them at higher risk of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus. Because of the long hours they spend on the road, it can be difficult to arm them with the information they need to stay healthy—especially through in-person classes on eating well away from home, getting more active, and managing stress.

The Healthy Trucking Association of America (HTAA), in collaboration with AADE, has been at the forefront of “putting the brakes on diabetes” among drivers. Not only do they promote a digital version (OMADA®) of the National DPP to eligible drivers, but they also use radio to build awareness around prediabetes. Kaptain Jack, a radio host for, and Bill Gordon, President of HTAA, are personalities featured on the roadworthy internet radio station who share health-related information with listeners and encourage drivers at risk for type 2 diabetes to get started on a life-changing journey by enrolling in OMADA®.

TAA’s messaging has included public service announcements on their radio stations, Renegade Radio and In the Cab Radio, that focus on health and wellness and the testimony of Kaptain Jack, who registered for OMADA® himself. He speaks candidly on air and on social media about his personal struggles with pre-diabetes.

“I’m happier, healthier, [have] more energy, and not only that, everything’s coming up roses…believe me, you’re not going to be sorry,” Kaptain Jack said in a September 24 video on his Facebook page that discussed his journey with OMADA ® and why he believed others should sign up for the program.

HTAA also uses collaboration building with fleets across the country to further disseminate news about OMADA®. One of these fleets includes Russell Transport, Inc. Russell Transport, Inc., presently recognized as a top 100 Hispanic American Owned Business, is a transportation company headquartered in El Paso, Texas, owned by Rosa Marin, President, and Rami Abdeljaber, Vice President and COO.

Healthy Trucking: National Diabetes Prevention Program

Russell Transport, Inc. guarantees consistent and reliable dedicated service which first starts with the health and safety of its drivers. When drivers are hired, Huerta walks them through enrolling in OMADA® during their new hire orientation. She also makes sure that posters promoting the National DPP are in plain view of rooms frequented by the drivers.

It’s very hard for them to come to us for screenings or to come to get informed, because if they’re not out there, they’re not making money,” Huerta said.

Drivers are incentivized to work long hours because they’re paid per mile. Huerta emphasized that many fleets are focused on marketing the amount of money that drivers will make driving for them, and they’re not necessarily focused on providing other benefits such as health and wellness programs like OMADA®. This type of programming can assist fleets in maintaining industry excellence by increasing driver productivity, decreasing absenteeism, and decreasing driver turnover.

Huerta acknowledged that it is sometimes difficult to get drivers to understand why the program would be available to them. She stressed that it’s important for the drivers to be educated about the value of the program.

“We not only have to be the educator for wellness, we have to be the educators for drivers taking care of themselves,” she explained.

Huerta also tries to ensure that the trainings offered through her employees’ orientations are linguistically and culturally relevant to them.

“Being a border city, it’s very culturally sensitive,” Huerta said.

Out of the 123 professional drivers that work for Russel Transport, 72 are bilingual, and the rest are primarily Spanish-speaking. Thirty are first-generation Latinos and new immigrants to the United States. Orientations are primarily given in Spanish, but information is available in both Spanish and English.

When drivers receive their orientation, Huerta invites their spouse and children to attend as well. She says that this cultural focus on the family means that drivers are encouraged to pay closer attention when their family is present for the enrollment. It’s also a key way to ensure that the messages of the National DPP—of nutrition, exercise, and stress management—reach their entire family.

While the digital National DPP is convenient for drivers’ busy schedules, Huerta expressed hope that drivers may have the chance to connect with organizations that offer in-person sessions of the National DPP.

Above all, Huerta explained that it is necessary to “let them know—this is for you,” she said.

By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

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