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Obesity can exacerbate workplace injuries: Study

Posted On: Dec. 14, 2010 12:00 AM CST

Injuries sustained by obese workers often require substantially more medical care and are more likely to become permanent disabilities than similar injuries suffered by employees who are not obese, a study released Monday found.

“How Obesity Increases the Risk of Disabling Workplace Injuries,” produced by Boca Raton, Fla.-based NCCI Holdings Inc., reports on differences in treatment patterns between a sample of more than 7,000 claims with obesity as a secondary diagnosis and another 20,000 claims with virtually identical demographic characteristics but lacking an obesity diagnosis.

The range of medical treatments, costs and duration are typically, but not always, greater for obese claimants, researchers found.

A look at shoulder and arm sprains, for example, found that “the obese claim is significantly more costly due to an entire range of treatments including physical therapy and complex surgery that the non-obese claim did not incur,” the report states.

“Essentially, the non-obese claim had only an office visit, X-ray and drug treatment the day of the injury and a follow-up office visit the next day,” the study continues. “In total, the non-obese claim had four treatments, while the obese claim had more than 75. A major cost driver for the obese claim was complex surgery.”

The study can be viewed at