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The Impact of Body Mass Index on Short-Term Disability in the Workplace

Arena, Vincent C. PhD; Padiyar, Krishna R. MD, MPH; Burton, Wayne N. MD; Schwerha, Joseph J. MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 11 - p 1118-1124
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000241050.26059.2b
Original Articles

Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the association between body mass index and short-term disability in a working “white collar” population.

Methods: The authors collected cross-sectional data from 19,061 health risk appraisals completed by employees of a large financial services corporation from 2000–2002. The self-reported information for demographics and job satisfaction was combined with personnel and detailed information from short-term disability events (STD) taken during the same time period.

Results: After adjusting for multiple covariates, body mass index is an independent predictor for STD events. Body mass index categories of overweight and obese have odds ratios of 1.26 and 1.76 compared with normal weight (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: The improvement of employee health and wellness should be pursued by the employer in an effort to promote healthier weight among their workers. This in turn should reduce STD events that result in the loss of worker productivity and a major cost to companies.

From the Departments of Biostatistics (Dr Arena) and Environmental and Occupational Health (Dr Padiyar, Dr Schwerha), University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and the University of Illinois at Chicago (Dr Burton), Chicago, Illinois.

CME Available for this Article at

Vincent C. Arena has no commercial interest associated with this research.

Address correspondence to: Vincent C. Arena, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Biostatistics, 318 Parran Hall, 130 DeSoto Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261; E-mail:

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine