Alabama’s obesity problem affects workers’ compensation costs

Many people in Alabama have a problem with obesity, whether through lifestyle habits or a health condition. According to a study conducted recently, states that obesity rates in the state not only rose more than 22 percent since the year 2000, but that more than 35 percent of the state’s population is now considered obese. Additionally, the state is now the second-most obese in the nation (trailing only slightly behind nearby Louisiana). In 2015, information shows that blacks have the highest rate of obesity in the state at 43.2 percent and that the condition is most prevalent in those between the ages of 45-64.

Not only can obesity affect the overall health of people, it can also impact the amount of workers’ compensation that is paid out when they become injured. A September study detailed in the Insurance Journal reveals that America’s obese and overweight workers are more likely to incur high workers’ compensation costs after suffering serious injuries than those who maintain healthy weight.  

For the purposes of the study, those who had a Body Mass Index between 25 and 30 were considered overweight, while those who had a BMI above 30 were considered obese. Those who fell below a BMI of 25 were considered to be at normal, or healthy, weights. Though being overweight or obese was not shown to affect workers’ compensation costs for minor injuries, those who fell within these groups and suffered major injuries were roughly twice as likely as those at healthy weights to incur workers’ compensation costs that exceed $100,000. The study, however, did not reveal any possible causes for this increase, such as longer recovery time or higher chance of complications.

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