Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fat workers cost employers more money due to injury?? NOT

The latest little anti obesity fluff from abcnews, claims that
>>>>Overweight workers cost their bosses more in injury claims than their lean colleagues, suggests a study that found the heaviest employees had twice the rate of workers' compensation claims as their fit co-workers. Overweight workers were more likely to have claims involving injuries to the back, wrist, arm, neck, shoulder, hip, knee and foot than other employees. The findings were based on eight years of data from 11,728 people employed by Duke and its health system. Researchers found that workers with higher body mass indexes, or BMIs, had higher rates of workers' compensation claims.

ABC news - overweight employees cost more

What they failed to tell the reader was that they only looked at 15.8 percent of Duke HC employees... those who had filled out an online survey about health and injuries and that most of those who filled out the survey were not only minority but also those in labor intensive jobs where on the job injuries tend to be higher in people of all sizes. And of course, self reported data is notoriously inaccurate.

The following blog (by an RN, BSN) explains it all very well - why the study is totally flawed and the results, inconclusive:


1 comment:

fatfu said...

What really boters me up about this study is that -- aside from whether the numbers are accurate for that particular data point or not -- it's really unethical to single out a group of people sharing a single characteristic in this way to begin with. Let alone put out a press release on it.

Basically if you were so inclined, you can trawl the data on any human trait and find an infinite number of statistics where that group in the aggregate will perform "below average." You can put out press releases proclaiming "this group is too expensive!" every time you find a damning data point. You can ignore articles that find positive information. You can make a campaign out of it. That's what's being done with fat.

The problem is, true or not, how is the individual supposed to defend themselves against aggregate data like this? Fat people may or may not have a few extra Worker's Comp claims per 100,000. But I'VE never filed one. I've never been injured. Considering the type of work I do, it's doubtful I ever will.

And yet I can still expect to be discriminated against on the basis of this. Because there really are few legal protections for's not clearly a disability legally, nor is it a protected minority group. Even though it's obviously a physical trait, and by every study that's ever been done one that is rarely changed by "choice," it's still treated as if it's a behavior. And therefore it's without any kind of reasonable protection against this type of statistical recklessness on the part of the American Medical Association.