Obesity Hurts at Work

Obesity hurts at work, and not just because of employment discrimination. A new study in PLOS ONE finally provides prospective, longitudinal evidence that confirms obesity leads to more injuries on the job.

Anne Kouvonen and colleagues followed nearly 70,000 public sector employees between 2000 and 2008. Women comprised 80% of this cohort. Obesity led to a 21% overall higher risk of occupational injuries, including broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, concussions, internal injuries, slips, trips, stumbles, falls, shock, fright, violence, and aggression. Whew! It’s quite a list.

Employers really can’t afford to ignore obesity, nor can they continue to simply blame the people affected. Smart employers will assure that they have a safe and healthy workplace. The environment where people spend most of their waking hours is completely under an employer’s control. A healthy workplace promotes physical activity, makes healthy nutrition easy, and embodies a culture of good health for every employee.

People respond positively to an employer that puts their health first, rather than trying to shift burdens and costs onto employees.

Click here to read the study and here to access CDC resources on workplace health promotion.

Mishap, photograph © clarkmaxwell / flickr

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