Obese People More Prone to Injury
Reducing Weight May Reduce Disease and Injury
July 22, 2005 -- People who are extremely obese are twice as likely to
injure themselves as those who weigh less, a new study shows.
Researchers compared injury rates in a large group of adults and found
extremely obese adults reported the highest number of personal injuries.
For example, more than one out of four extremely obese men had injured
themselves in the past year compared with less than one in five normal weight
Examples of extreme obesity are 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.
Researchers say this is the first study to look at the risk of personal
injury among different weight groups in the general population and suggests
that obesity may make people more prone to personal injury.
"There is undeniably a link between obesity and injury risk in
adults," states researcher Huiyun Xiang, a researcher at the Center for
Injury Research and Policy at Ohio State University, in a news release.
"Efforts to promote optimal body weight may reduce not only the risk of
chronic diseases, but also the risk of unintentional injuries," says
More Weight, More Falls
Researchers surveyed more than 2,500 adults living in Colorado. They
collected information on personal injuries reported in the previous year and body mass index (BMI, a measure of
weight in relation to height used to indicate obesity).
The results showed that extremely obese men and women reported a much higher
number of personal injuries compared with other weight groups. Overall,
researchers estimated having a BMI over 35 doubled the risk of personal injury
over the past year.
Other findings include:
- 26% of extremely obese men reported injuries compared with 17% of normal
- Nearly 22% of extremely obese women reported injuries compared with 12% of
normal weight women.
- The most common causes of nonfatal injuries among the obese were
overexertion and falls.
- More than half of the injuries among extremely obese people occurred within
the home; transportation areas, such as parking lots, ranked a distant
"Obesity may limit what a person can physically do," says Xiang.
"People with such limitations are often at a higher risk for injury than
The results of the study appear in the July issue of the American
Journal of Preventive Medicine.