Objective: To investigate the relationship between body mass index (BMI), haemoglobin (Hb) concentration and work productivity in Indonesian female industrial workers engaged in cigarette rolling.
Design: Randomized-stratified, cross-sectional study.
Setting: A clove cigarette factory in Central Java Province, Indonesia.
Subjects: Two-hundred and thirty female cigarette-rollers.
Methods: Anthropometric variables (height, weight, mid-upper arm circumference, BMI), body composition (lean body mass and fat mass from skinfolds thicknesses), Hb, work productivity (cigarettes/hour) were determined.
Results: Of the 230 selected subjects 40.4% were anaemic and 41.3% had BMI < 18.5. Average production was 620 +/- 86 cigarettes/h. Productivity was positively correlated with work experience (r = 0.214, P < 0.01), lean body mass (r = 0.183, P < 0.01), height (r = 0.150, P < 0.05), Hb (r = 0.141, P < 0.05), and arm muscle area (r = 0.120, P < 0.05). Anaemic subjects produced 4.9% less (P < 0.01) than the non-anaemic ones. No linear relationship existed between BMI and productivity, but subjects with a BMI < 18.5, or < 17.0, produced respectively 5.1% (P < 0.05) and 6.8% (P <0.05) less than subjects with BMI between 18.5-22.5.
Conclusions: Work productivity of persons with low BMI and Hb may be reduced. However, BMI was not a good screening tool to detect low producers. When using BMI < 18.5 and a production < 550 cigarettes/h as cut-offs sensitivity (64.7%) and specificity (55.5%) were low.