Obesity Increases Risk of Injury

Obesity raises the odds of injury at home and at work, and also slows recovery time, according to a recent study.

Comedian Chris Farley was well-known for his characters’ ham-fisted antics and pratfalls, but the dangers of physical clumsiness represent a real burden for those who struggle with obesity, new research shows.

Being obese increases the risk of sprains and broken bones from falls, trips and stumbles, according to a study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Obese children also are more likely to get hurt from a fall and sustain injuries to their face, teeth and bones.

The new study, “Obesity and Injury in Australia: a Review of the Literature,” reviewed existing literature to investigate the relationship between obesity and injury and fill relevant gaps in knowledge among researchers. Government data indicates that the rate of obesity in Australia, which is more than 20 percent among adults, costs the economy an estimated $58 billion a year.

The recent findings align with previous research, including a 2009 study by Samsung Life Insurance Lifecare Institute, which determined that obese people are 73 percent more likely to have an accident, require a hospital stay, or need an operation.

The new report also noted a higher rate of injuries at work among people who are obese. In addition, because obesity-related sleep problems, such as sleep apnea, can cause fatigue, overweight individuals have a higher probability of road accidents.

Unfortunately, recovery time after injury is also longer for people who are obese, according to findings of the literature review. They spend more time in the hospital, have a higher likelihood of further complications, and a higher risk of death after serious injury.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.