risk higher in overweight adults
Newswise — Overweight adults are significantly
more likely to sustain injuries that require
medical treatment than their normal-weight
peers, finds a new study of more than 40,000
people. For the extremely obese, the risk is
nearly twice as high.
“Our results suggest that injury rates could
increase in the future as obesity rates continue
to increase,” said study co-author Justin
Trogdon, Ph.D., a research economist at RTI
International in Research Triangle Park, N.C.,
The study appears in the May/June issue of
the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Trogdon and colleagues analyzed data from a
large survey of medical expenditures
administered by the federal Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality.
The 42,304 adults who participated noted all
medical conditions, injuries and health care
expenditures that occurred between 1999 and
2002. They also reported height and weight,
which researchers used to calculate body mass
Researchers found that as BMI increased, so did
a person’s risk of sustaining an injury
requiring medical treatment.
Overweight adults (BMI between 26 and 29) had a
15 percent increased risk of injury compared to
normal-weight adults. Morbidly obese adults (BMI
of 40 and over) had the highest risk of injury —
a 48 percent greater risk than normal-weight
However, although having a higher BMI increased
injury risk, it did not signal an increase in
the cost of medical treatment per incident.
“We thought we might find that, once injured,
overweight and obese patients would be more
expensive to treat. This would be the case if
the injuries were more severe or if the excess
weight complicated treatment. However, we found
that treatment costs per injury were not
significantly higher for overweight and obese
patients,” Trogdon said.
The authors suggested that the future total cost
of injuries might still be substantial due to
the burgeoning overweight and obese population
in the United States.
“I’m just hoping that we’re looking at this data
from the right direction — a way to help
individuals not have injuries, as opposed to
finding another way to tell them they’re heavy,”
said Sylvia Moore, Ph.D., director of the
Division of Medical Education and Public Health
at the University of Wyoming.
“This is just another area where we need to be
aware where excess weight might cause some risk,
and educate people about that risk and try to
minimize it,” Moore said.
Finkelstein EA, et al. The relationship between
obesity and injuries among U.S. adults. Am J
Health Promot 21(5), 2007.