By any measure, obesity is a major challenge in America today. Indeed, many experts believe it is an epidemic public health problem.
Understandably, then, obesity is involved in many workers' compensation claims. And the evidence suggests that it can make the resolution of workers' comp cases more complicated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses the terms "overweight" and "obese" to describe ranges of weight that exceed what it considers healthy for a given height. For example, someone who is 5 feet, nine inches tall, between 169 and 202 pounds, would have a BMI of between 25 and 29.9. This would be classified as overweight.
Someone who is that tall and weighs 203 pounds or more would have a BMI or 30 ore higher and be considered obese.
According to the CDC, 37.5 percent of U.S. adults are obese.
One reason that obesity can complicate workers' comp claims is that obesity tends to raise the risk of "co-morbid" conditions. These conditions can include diabetes, hypertension and cancer.
Such conditions can make it hard for doctors to determine when workers who have been injured on the job have attained maximum medical improvement.
In some cases, doctors may recommend that an injured person participate in a weight-loss program. In other cases, they may even call for gastric bypass surgery. These types of interventions can prolong the workers' compensation process.
This does not mean, however, that an obese worker's right to pursue a work comp claim is any less than a healthy-weight person's.
Source: "Obesity Problems Weigh on Workers' Comp," Roberto Ceniceros, Workforce, 3-8-12