Student Research: Eric V. Barton

, Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH), 2017
Faculty Advisor: Sverre Vedal

An Analysis of the Association Between Obesity and Work Productivity Impairment Among King County Workers


Objective: Determine the obesity prevalence among a sample of workers in six low-wage industries in King County and evaluate the association between weight category and work productivity impairment within this sample. Methods: Using data drawn from the HealthLinks Trial baseline survey, multiple linear regression analyses were conducted examining the association between weight category and work productivity impairment. Results: The prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥ 30) among the study participants was 19.62%. Among the industries represented, Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation had the highest prevalence of obesity at 30.1%. The adjusted multiple linear regression model suggests that obese (BMI ≥ 30) and recommended weight (18.5 ≤ BMI < 25) workers of the same gender, age, race, education, industry, and job satisfaction who are in good or better health, will have a statistically significant difference in work productivity impairment, with obese workers predicted to have 16.8% more impairment than recommended weight workers. There was no statistically significant change in impairment between overweight (25 ≤ BMI to < 30) or underweight (BMI ≤ 18.5) workers relative to recommended weight workers. Health status was found to significantly modify and depression risk substantially mediate, the effect of obesity on work productivity impairment. Conclusions: This study predicts that obese employees in this population, who are otherwise in good health, will on average, have higher work productivity impairment than recommended weight workers. Due to the substantial impact that health status and depression risk have on the association between obesity and work productivity, workplace health programs may wish to specifically address these issues in order to maximize work productivity.