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Obese workers' medical costs much higher: Study

Posted On: Apr. 24, 2007 12:00 AM CST

Obese workers file twice the number of workers compensation claims and have medical costs that are seven times higher than their nonobese counterparts, according to a Duke University Medical School study.

Obese workers also lost 13 times the number of days of work because of a job-related injury or illness, concludes the study that the Durham, N.C., researchers released Monday.

Researchers looked at anonymous records of nearly 12,000 Duke University employees who received health risk appraisals between 1997 and 2004. The wide variety of workers included administrative assistants, groundskeepers, nurses and professors.

"We think these findings can be generalized to the community as a whole, since the demographics of Duke closely reflect the local area," said study co-author John Dement, a professor of occupational and environmental medicine and the principal investigator for a workplace safety surveillance program at Duke.

Results of the study were published in the April 23 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine. A grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health supported the research.