APH 1998, 56, 81-91:

Body mass index, industrial accidents and sick leave: further evidence of an association.

G. Mylle, G. Moens, H. De Raeve, B. Viaene, and D. Lahaye

Keywords: body mass index, obesity, industrial accidents, sick leave, working population, Belgium,
cross-sectional study

Objective. The authors want to investigate the distribution of Body Mass index (BMI - kg/m2) among the working population in Flanders and the Brussels region of Belgium, and the association of BMI with the occurrence of industrial accidents and sick leave.

Methods. Routine data on body height and weight were registered in 1995 in a cross-sectional way at the periodical medical examination of employees in various industrial sectors. Results of 62,136 male and 49,669 female workers, aged 18 to 64 years, were registered on an optical form and stored into a computerized data base.

Results. Descriptive statistics for BMI among males were: mean = 25.3 (SD = 4. l), and in females: mean = 24. 1 (SD = 4.6). BMI was > and = 25 in 49%, 30 in 12%, and 40 in 0.5% of the males. Among females BMI  > and = 25 was observed in 33%, 30 in 11%, and 40 among 0.9%. With females, a trend of increasing year prevalence of industrial accidents with increasing BMI group was found. This association became stronger after adjustment for confounding factors in a logistic regression analysis (age, occupation, blood pressure, smoking behavior and sports habits). With male employees, the association was less obvious, especially after adjustment. With men, the association with sick leave became stronger after adjustment, while with women, it became slightly weaker.

Conclusions. The high prevalence of BMI > and = 25, more pronounced with male than with female employees, confirms earlier findings and needs further investigation. Also the cross-sectional association with the prevalence of industrial accidents and sick leave needs confirmation in prospective studies.