Having a body mass index in the overweight or obese range increases the risk of traumatic workplace injury, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Injury Research and Policy.
Employer-sponsored weight loss and maintenance programs should be considered as part of a well-rounded workplace safety plan, according to the authors of the Advance Access study recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
"Clearly, limited resources for workplace injury prevention and control should target the most prominent and modifiable risk factors, but we cannot neglect the fact that our study and other recently published studies support an association between BMI and the risk, distribution and prevalence of workplace injury," said Keshia M. Pollack, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Health Policy and Management.
BMI is a measure of body fat based on an adult's height and weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight, 18.5-24.9 is normal, 25-29.9 is overweight, and higher than 30 is obese.
Of the 7,690 workers included in the study, 29 percent were injured at least once between Jan. 2, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2004. Approximately 85 percent of the injured workers were classified as overweight or obese.
The severely obese group who had a BMI greater than 40 also had the most injuries to the hand/wrist/finger and to the leg/knee when compared with the same injuries in the other weight categories.
The scientists said that further work needs to be done to determine if obesity prevention in the workplace could improve injury rates and reduce lost work time.
The researchers used medical and injury surveillance data on hourly workers employed in eight plants, scattered across the United States, of the same aluminum manufacturer.
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September 15, 2007
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