Impact of obesity on work productivity and role disability in individuals with and at risk for diabetes mellitus

Am J Health Promot. 2009 May-Jun;23(5):353-60. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.081010-QUAN-243.


Purpose: Evaluate work absence, work productivity, and disruption of work, social, and family life among individuals of varying body mass index (BMI) with or at risk for diabetes mellitus.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis of survey data.

Setting: Community-based U.S. population.

Subjects: Respondents (n = 15,132; n = 7338 working adults) participating in the U.S. Study to Help Improve Early evaluation and management of risk factors Leading to Diabetes (SHIELD) study were stratified by combinations of BMI (i.e., > or = 30 kg/m2 [obese], 25 to 29.9 kg/ m2 [overweight], and < 25 kg/m2 [normal weight]) and diabetes (i.e., type 2 diabetes mellitus [T2DM], type 1 diabetes mellitus [T1DM], and high risk [HR] or low risk [LR] of T2DM).

Measures: Work impairment was measured using the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire: General Health. Disruption in life was measured using the Sheehan Disability Scale. HR was defined as 3 to 5 of the following factors: abdominal obesity, BMI > or = 28 kg/m2, reported diagnosis of "cholesterol problems,"reported diagnosis of "hypertension, "or history of coronary heart disease or stroke. LR was defined as < or = 2 of these factors.

Results: Percentage of work impairment and proportion with severe disruption of work, family, and social life increased systematically from normal weight to obese (p < .001). Obese individuals had the greatest impairment at work (11%-15% of work time), greatest impairment of daily activities (20 %-34% of time), and greatest overall impairment (11%-15% of time) in the LR, HR, and T2DM groups. Obesity and T2DM were independent predictors of overall work impairment and life disruption (p < .001). Between 5% and 7% of total variance was explained in the regression models with BMI category, diabetes/risk group, age, gender, race, income, and household size as variables. CONCLUSION; Greatest impairment of work and daily activities was evident among obese individuals for all groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Efficiency*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Professional Role*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data*