Long-Term Effects of Obesity on Employment and Work Limitations Among U.S. Adults, 1986 to 1999
Article first published online: 6 SEP 2012
2006 North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO)
Volume 14, Issue 9, pages 1637–1646, September 2006
How to Cite
Tunceli, K., Li, K. and Williams, L. K. (2006), Long-Term Effects of Obesity on Employment and Work Limitations Among U.S. Adults, 1986 to 1999. Obesity, 14: 1637–1646. doi: 10.1038/oby.2006.188
- Issue published online: 6 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 6 SEP 2012
- Received for review October 20, 2005, Accepted in final from June 29, 2006
- labor supply
Objective: To determine the relationships between BMI and workforce participation and the presence of work limitations in a U.S. working-age population.
Research Methods and Procedures: We used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a nationwide prospective cohort, to estimate the effect of obesity in 1986 on employment and work limitations in 1999. Individuals were classified into the following weight categories: underweight (BMI < 18.5), normal weight (18.5 ≤ BMI < 25), overweight (25 ≤ BMI < 30), and obese (BMI ≥ 30). Using multivariable probit models, we estimated the relationships between obesity and both employment and work disability. All analyses were stratified by sex.
Results: After adjusting for baseline sociodemographic characteristics, smoking status, exercise, and self-reported health, obesity was associated with reduced employment at follow-up [men: marginal effect (ME) −4.8 percentage points (pp); p < 0.05; women: ME −5.8 pp; p < 0.10]. Among employed women, being either overweight or obese was associated with an increase in self-reported work limitations when compared with normal-weight individuals (overweight: ME +3.9 pp; p < 0.01; obese: ME +12.6 pp; p < 0.01). Among men, the relationship between obesity and work limitations was not statistically significant.
Discussion: Obesity appears to result in future productivity losses through reduced workforce participation and increased work limitations. These findings have important implications in the U.S., which is currently experiencing a rise in the prevalence of obesity.