Overweight workers seem to cost their employers more than healthy-weight workers, according to an analysis at Duke University Medical Center. Obese employees file twice as many compensation claims compared to employees with a healthy weight, found the study.

Overweight workers, unlike workers with normal weight, also lost more days of work because of work illness or injuries. The costs of their medical attendance were seven times higher than the costs for workers who have a healthy weight, found the researchers.

The study was based on records of almost 12,000 employees of Duke University from different groups of workers such as groundskeepers, professors, nurses, and assistants. The specialists followed the connection between the person’s body mass index (BMI) and compensation claims.

The results showed that the category of workers with a BMI of forty or more had almost twelve claims per 100 workers, compared to about six claims per 100 for workers with a normal weight. Researchers also calculated the average of lost days of work and found that obese workers lost almost 184 days per 100 employees, while others lost about 15 days per 100 employees.

The medical costs for the claims of obese workers were of $51,019 per 100 employees, and of $7,503 for workers with a healthy weight. Falling, lifting, or slipping were the most common causes of injuries.

Obesity is no longer a personal medical problem, it also has concrete economic costs, said Dr. Truls Ostbye. In these circumstances, employers should also have a high interest in helping their workers maintain a healthy weight. Employers may accept strategies specially designed to make the workplace healthier and safer, said Ostbine.

It is necessary to take action in order to reduce the risk of obesity and injury within the workplace. This way, workers will have a healthier life, absenteeism will be reduced, and the health costs of the employees will also be decreased, said John Dement, co-author of the study.

(c) ProjectWeightLoss.com 2009. All rights reserved.

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