Researchers have revealed through a new study on cardiovascular risk factors and their impact on sickness absence from work that obese workers tend to take more sick leaves than their healthy colleagues.
The ICARIA (Ibermutuamur CArdiovascular RIsk Assessment) Study was presented at EuroPrevent 2017 and was carried out on Spanish working population. Scientists say that while the overall working population is supposed to be healthy, their findings indicate a high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, like tobacco consumption, hypertension, or dyslipidaemia.
Scientists focused on investigating how obesity impacts the frequency of sick leaves and whether it varied according to being metabolically healthy or metabolically unhealthy. The study included 174,329 healthy workers who were classified by body mass index (BMI in kg/m2) and metabolically healthy/unhealthy. Workers were classified as metabolically unhealthy if they had three or more of the following criteria: high waist circumference; raised triglycerides or receiving treatment for hyperlipidaemia; low HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol; high blood pressure or previous diagnosis of hypertension or receiving treatment for hypertension; or high fasting glucose or receiving treatment for diabetes.
Data on sickness absence during a one-year follow-up period was obtained from the Mutual Insurance Company (Ibermutuamur) registers. Episodes of sick leave were divided into non-work-related diseases and accidents and work-related diseases and accidents.
The study indicated a consistent association between overweight and obesity with sickness absence due to non-work-related illnesses in both metabolically healthy and unhealthy workers. Scientists found that metabolically healthy overweight/obese people were 37 per cent more likely to take sick leave and metabolically unhealthy overweight/obese people were 71 per cent more likely to take sick leave than people who were not overweight/obese.
Scientists concluded that their results draw our attention to the urgent need of developing effective interventions aimed at decreasing the negative impact of the obesity epidemic among the working population. Scientists point out that the working population that is metabolically healthy but overweight or at the mildest range of obesity progression could be the appropriate target group for such interventions.