Study Finds Obese Adults at Higher Risk for Physical Injuries

A new study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicates that overweight individuals are at a higher risk for injury than people who are physically fit.

Obese people were found to be twice as likely to injure themselves, with more than 1 out of 4 extremely overweight men reporting injury in the last year as opposed to less than 1 in 5 normal weight men.

The study, the first to examine personal injury among different weight groups, considered more than 2,500 adults residing in Colorado by compiling information on both personal injuries reported last year and Body Mass Index (BMI).

 BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height, which defines normal weight and obesity.  For example, a 5-foot-9-inch man who weighs 235 pounds or more or a 5-foot-4-inch woman who weighs at least 205 pounds would be considered extremely obese.

The study found that having a BMI over 35 doubled the risk of personal injury. It showed that 26% of extremely obese men reported injuries compared with 17% of normal weight men, while nearly 22% of extremely obese women reported injuries compared with 12% of normal weight women.

In addition, the most common causes of nonfatal injuries among the obese were overexertion and falls. More than half of these injuries were found to occur within the home. Others happened in transportation areas, such as parking lots.

Huiyun Xiang, a researcher at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Ohio State University, stated in a news release: "There is undeniably a link between obesity and injury risk in adults. Efforts to promote optimal body weight may reduce not only the risk of chronic diseases, but also the risk of unintentional injuries.”

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