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Obesity and Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Claims

Obese workers face many challenges. In a culture obsessed with rail-thin fashion models, people who are packing plenty of pounds often encounter various forms of social disapproval.

Research shows that the challenges also include higher susceptibility to workplace injuries. A workers' compensation attorney can explain the ramifications of this research for your specific case.

Briefly, the research suggests that obese people who submit workers' comp claims tend to miss more days of work than healthy-weight employees with comparable injuries. The obese workers are also more likely to have more expensive medical bills - and more likely to suffer a permanent disability.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in every 3 adults is obese. In 2009, the federal data showed that 37.5 percent of adults are obese.

The health conditions that can become more common when someone is obese include diabetes and hypertension, as well as stroke, heart disease and cancer.

These conditions are called "co-morbid" conditions. They can make it harder for doctors to determine how much medical improvement a worker can reasonably be expected to make following an injury.

Sometimes doctors recommend interventions such as weight-loss programs or even bariatric surgery.

To take one example, an ankle sprain suffered on the job by a 300-pound person may have a different medical prognosis than a similar sprain suffered by someone weighing 150 pounds.

The 300-pound person is just as eligible to file a workers' comp claim as the person who weights half that amount. But it's important to know that the former claim may be more challenging to resolve.

Source: "Obesity Problems Weigh on Workers' Comp," Roberto Ceniceros, Workforce, 3-8-12

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