The man leading a nutrition revolution among fire fighters
“I’ve always realised the power of physical fitness, ever since I was very young,” says Dr Greg Lessons, Health Improvement Lead at the Fire Fighters Charity. “Being in the fire service, the food environment was leading me to gain body fat.”
Dr Lessons says it was not just the thought of losing some weight that got him interested in nutrition, he was interested in the other ways a healthy diet could help him and his colleagues.
He says things like obesity and poor nutrition within the fire service are reflective of wider society, but that there are specific challenges that need to be addressed.
In this episode of the Career Conversations podcast series, Dr Lessons explains all about his role at the Fire Fighters Charity and the path that led him to his current job.
Initially, he wanted to be a Royal Marine and went to the University of Exeter to study Sports Science, as a way into the military at officer level.
“It wasn’t long after starting that I realised I didn’t want to join the military after all,” he says.
So, he decided to carry on with his education before joining the fire service as a fire fighter.
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When it comes to comparing the military to the fire service, Dr Lessons has this to say: “There are parallels, but in terms of what you actually do, it couldn’t be further apart.”
Listen to the full episode to find out why, after 17 years, he decided to stop fighting fires, how he became an award-winning student whilst studying at London Metropolitan University, and find out about opportunities for new starters who are interested in forging a career in nutrition.
Dr Greg Lessons, Health Improvement Lead, the Fire Fighters Charity
Dr Greg Lessons is a registered nutritionist specialising in public health, sports and exercise nutrition. He holds an MSc and PhD in nutrition and a postgraduate certificate in learning and teaching in higher education.
His innovative research has resulted in the first fire service-specific nutritional assessment tools and the first dietary intervention trials at UK fire stations. These trials resulted in significant improvements to fire fighter dietary behaviour, body composition and markers of health and wellbeing.
Prior to his career in nutrition, Greg served London for 17 years as a full-time operational firefighter.
In 2019 Greg was named ‘Nutritionist of the year’ by the Caroline Walker Trust. He then went on to win the Public Sector Catering ‘Health and Nutrition Award’ in 2020 for his pioneering work in the delivery of a clear health and nutrition strategy in the London Fire Brigade.
In addition to leading on the Fire Fighters Charity ‘ill-health prevention’ portfolio of services, Dr Lessons is an associate lecturer of Human Nutrition and continues his research to benefit the health of the UK fire service community.