obesity workplace wellness

Obesity ‘Progressively Associated with Lower Work Ability’: Study

We report frequently on the health concerns associated with obesity. For example, the Gallup report that “Obese adults between the ages of 25 and 64 are at least four times more likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes than those who are normal weight… By their mid-to-late 30s, 9.3% of adults who are obese have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared with 1.8% among those who are normal weight.”

The post continues: “In 2016, 28.4% of all U.S. adults were classified as obese, and 11.6% reported having been diagnosed with diabetes. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have estimated that about one in three Americans born in the year 2000 will be diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetime, and that the percentage of Americans with the disease will at least double from current levels by the year 2050.”

But a study published in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health takes an additional view: The role of obesity on the work itself — which brings focus the the business case that supports a well-run workplace wellness program.

The report is titled “Overweight and obesity are progressively associated with lower work ability in the general working population: cross-sectional study among 10,000 adults.” It’s purpose: “Obesity is associated with many diseases and functional limitations. Workplaces are not always designed to accommodate this challenge. This study investigated the association between body mass index (BMI) and work ability in the general working population.”

The results: “BMIs above the normal range were progressively associated with lower work ability in relation to the physical demands of the job. Odds ratios for having lower work ability were 1.11 , 1.17 , 1.43, 1.69  for overweight and obesity classes I, II, and III, respectively.”

Interestingly, the results showed that “in subgroup analyses, the associations between BMI and work ability were more pronounced among individuals with mainly sedentary work than among those with physically active work.”

As well, an important note about obesity and mental health: “BMI was not associated with work ability in relation to the mental demands of the work.”

The conclusion was clear: “BMIs above the normal range are progressively associated with lower work ability in relation to the physical demands of the job, especially among individuals with mainly sedentary work.”