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  • Study: Obesity costs employers

    first_imgThe findings were based on eight years of data from 11,728 people employed by Duke and its health system. 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. BMI is a measure of height and weight. A 6-foot, 300-pound person, for example, has a BMI of just over 40. Study co-author Dr. Truls Ostbye said the findings should encourage employers to sponsor fitness programs. “There are many promising programs,” Ostbye said. “We’d like to see more research about what is truly effective.” But there isn’t enough good information about employer-sponsored programs that work, said John Cawley, an expert in the economics of obesity at Cornell University. CHICAGO – Overweight workers cost their bosses more in injury claims than their lean colleagues, suggests a study that found the heaviest employees had twice the rate of workers’ compensation claims as their fit co-workers. Obesity experts said they hope the study will convince employers to invest in programs to help fight obesity. One employment attorney warned companies that treating fat workers differently could lead to discrimination complaints. Duke University researchers also found that the fattest workers had 13 times more lost workdays due to work-related injuries, and their medical claims were seven times higher than those of their fit co-workers. Overweight workers were more likely to have claims involving injuries to the back, wrist, arm, neck, shoulder, hip, knee and foot than other employees. Employers don’t know whether paying for nutrition counseling, obesity surgery or anti-obesity drugs through health insurance makes economic sense, he said. New York employment attorney Richard Corenthal cautioned employers not to overreact with discriminatory policies. “Employers need to be careful not to view this study as a green light to treat obese or overweight workers differently,” Corenthal said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more