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Relationship Between Body Mass Index and Workers’ Compensation Claims and Costs: Results From the North Carolina League of Municipalities Database

Chenoweth, David H. PhD; Rager, Robin C. PhD; Haynes, Robert G. CPCU

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2015 - Volume 57 - Issue 9 - p 931–937
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000506

Objective: To determine whether a relationship exists between elevated levels of body mass index (BMI) and workers’ compensation measures.

Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of 3951 workers’ compensation claimants between 1981 and 2009 representing municipal workplaces. A BMI scale composed of seven levels, including two overweight tiers, was used.

Results: Higher BMI levels were related to more lost workdays, indemnity costs, and total costs. Medical care costs were virtually the same in overweight and obese claimants and moderately higher than claimants with recommended BMIs. Males were more likely to incur workers’ compensation claims than females across all BMI tiers; yet, obese females incurred twice as many lost workdays and indemnity costs, and nearly 50% higher medical costs and total costs than obese men.

Conclusions: Elevated levels of BMI negatively influence several workers’ compensation outcome measures.

Chenoweth & Associates, Inc (Dr Chenoweth), New Bern, NC; Optimum Health Management, LLC (Dr. Rager), Nashville Tenn; and North Carolina League of Municipalities (Mr Haynes), Raleigh.

Address correspondence to: David H. Chenoweth, PhD, Chenoweth & Associates, Inc, 8723 Emerald Plantation Road, Emerald Isle, NC 28594 (

This study was funded solely by the North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM). Drs Chenoweth and Rager were paid consultants by the NCLM.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine