Overweight and obesity are progressively associated with lower work ability in the general working population: cross-sectional study among 10,000 adults
Obesity is associated with many diseases and functional limitations. Workplaces are not always designed to accommodate this challenge. This study investigated the association between body mass index (BMI) and work ability in the general working population.
Currently employed wage earners (N = 10,427) from the 2010 round of the Danish Work Environment Cohort Study (DWECS) replied to questions about work and health. Cumulative logistic regression analyses controlling for age, gender, physical and psychosocial work factors, lifestyle, and chronic diseases modeled the associations between BMI and work ability.
BMIs above the normal range were progressively associated with lower work ability in relation to the physical demands of the job. Odds ratios for having lower work ability were 1.11 (95% CI 1.01–1.22), 1.17 (95% CI 1.01–1.34), 1.43 (95% CI 1.09–1.88), 1.69 (95% CI 1.10–2.62) for overweight and obesity classes I, II, and III, respectively. In subgroup analyses, the associations between BMI and work ability were more pronounced among individuals with mainly sedentary work than among those with physically active work. BMI was not associated with work ability in relation to the mental demands of the work.
BMIs above the normal range are progressively associated with lower work ability in relation to the physical demands of the job, especially among individuals with mainly sedentary work. Ergonomic research on how to optimally design workstations for workers with obesity are needed.