Obesity is linked to short-term disability and obese women could face this risk more than men, says a new study .
Researchers led by Vincent C. Arena of the University of Pittsburgh analysed data from health risk appraisals of over 19,000 employees of a large financial services institution, reported Newswise wire.
The study sought to determine whether body weight was a risk factor for short-term disability, continuation for paid time off because of illness lasting more than five days, excluding pregnancy.
Information on height and weight was used to calculate each subject's body mass index (BMI) - a standard measure of the relative percentages of fat and muscle mass.
Overall, 9.6 percent of employees had at least one episode of short-term disability during the three-year study period.
Short-term disability rates increased from 7.3 percent for normal-weight workers (a BMI of 18.5-24.9) to 8.8 percent for workers in the overweight category (a BMI of 25-29.9), to 14.9 percent for those in the obese category (a BMI of 30 and over).
Nearly one-third of absences due to short-term disability were related to musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis or low back pain or mental health conditions like depression. Both categories of illness have previously been linked to overweight and obesity.
Women had a higher rate of short-term disability than men - 11.6 versus 3.9 percent.
The researchers suggested that companies should consider programmes designed to promote healthier body weight among their employees.
The study said: 'Successful weight management initiatives should reduce short-term disability expenditures, improve worker productivity, and lessen the indirect costs associated with overweight and obesity.'