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June/July 2009 (vol. 06/1)

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BMI and work disability in construction workers

A large cohort study of German construction workers found that moderate levels of overweight (as conventionally defined) are not associated with increased work disability and that, in fact, there is a U-shaped association between body mass index (BMI) and disability risk. After controlling for age,workers with BMIs of 25–27.4 kg/m2 had the lowest work disability risk after 10.8 years’ follow-up; though, risk increased dramatically above 35 kg/m2 notably for osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease. There was no association between BMI and disability due to back conditions. When providing health advice it might be appropriate to apply different standards of ‘normal’ weight in those doing heavy physical work compared with more sedentary jobs (‘normal’ BMIs are conventionally 18.5–24.9 kg/m2).

Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2009; 66: 402–409.  http://oem.bmj.com/content/66/6/402.abstract

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Occupational Health at Work June/July 2009 (vol. 06/1) pp41