Sick leave and disability pension before and after treatment for obesity: a report from the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999 Jun;23(6):619-24. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0800890.


Objectives: To analyse sick leave and disability pension among surgically and conventionally treated obese patients.

Design: A prospective study over five years. Differences in sick leave and disability pension were analysed using multiple and logistic regressions. Possible confounding factors were analysed and controlled for.

Setting: Nine counties in Sweden.

Subjects: 369 surgically treated patients and 371 matched obese controls, included in the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study. At baseline, mean body mass index (BMI) was 42 kg/m2 in surgical patients and 41 kg/m2 in controls. After four years of treatment, weight reduction was 20% among surgical patients while the control patients kept their initial weight.

Intervention: Gastric bariatric surgery.

Measurements: Days of sick leave plus disability pension, and days of disability pension.

Results: In the year prior to treatment, adjusted average number of days of sickness due to sick leave plus disability pension was similar in surgical patients and controls. Compared with controls, the surgical group had 35% more days of sickness during the first year after initiation of treatment, but 10-14% fewer days during years 2-3. During year four, days of sickness tended to be lower in the surgical group (P = 0.07). In the sub-group, aged above the median, surgical patients had 14-18% fewer days of sickness than controls, during years 2-3 after initiation of treatment This difference did not occur in the group below median age.

Conclusion: Surgical treatment of obesity results in a reduction of sick leave and disability pension, compared to controls, particularly in subjects aged 47-60 y.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / surgery*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Occupational Health
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sick Leave*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Weight Loss*
  • Workers' Compensation*