Obesity May Be Linked To Disability in Workers, Elderly

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Obesity and Workers

Obese individuals appear more likely to file workers' compensation claims for injuries on the job, according to a report in the April 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. A second report in the same issue suggests that older Americans with a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 30 - considered to be overweight - may have a higher risk of disability but a lower risk of death than those with BMI in the recommended range of 18.5 to 25.

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Obesity is an increasing public health problem and a risk factor for many chronic diseases and death, according to background information in the articles. Increased BMI, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared, has been shown to be associated with increased costs to employee health plans. Obese workers have up to 21 percent higher health care costs than those whose weight is in the recommended range. "Less is known about more direct costs of obesity to employers, such as work-related illness and injury," the authors write.

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