The effect of body mass index on recovery and return to work after onset of work-related low back pain

J Occup Environ Med. 2012 Feb;54(2):192-7. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31823ea80f.


Objective: To assess the effect of body mass index (BMI) on pain and function outcomes in the acute and subacute stages of work-related low back pain (LBP).

Methods: A prospective cohort of working-age patients (410 male, 197 female) with recent onset LBP (≤14 days' duration) provided height and weight as part of a study of prognostic factors for back disability. Self-reported pain, functional limitation, and work status were assessed at 1- and 3-month follow-ups.

Results: BMI (kg/m) was used to categorize participants as normal (31%), overweight (40%), or obese (29%). In prediction analyses, outcomes of pain, functional limitation, and return to work showed no significant variation (P > 0.05) by BMI, with or without controlling for potential confounds.

Conclusions: BMI is not a useful prognostic factor during the acute and subacute stages of work-related LBP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult