Study: Hefty Workers More Prone to Expensive Injuries

April 24, 2007 ( -The heaviest employees had twice the rate of workers' compensation claims as their fit co-workers in a recent study.

University researchers also found that the heftiest employees lost 13 times more workdays from work-related injuries and their medical claims for those injuries were seven times higher than their fit co-workers, according to an Associated Press news report.

According to the report, based on eight years of data from 11,728 people employed by Duke and its health system, overweight employees were more prone to have injury claims involving the back, wrist, arm, neck, shoulder, hip, knee and foot than other employees.

Researchers found that workers with higher body mass indexes, or BMIs, had higher rates of workers’ compensation claims.

The most obese workers – those with BMIs of 40 or higher– had the highest rates of claims and lost workdays.

Study co-author Dr. Truls Ostbye said the findings should encourage employers to sponsor fitness programs. ”There are many promising programs,” Ostbye said, according to the Associated Press. ”We’d like to see more research about what is truly effective.”

The study, appearing in Monday’s Archives of Internal Medicine, got funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.