Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Obesity linked to low endurance, increased fatigue in the workplace

Date:
July 23, 2014
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
New engineering study investigates ergonomic effects of obesity-related functional performance impairment. "Our findings indicated that on average, approximately 40 percent shorter endurance times were found in the obese group, with the largest differences in the hand grip and simulated assembly tasks. During those tasks, individuals in the obese group also exhibited greater declines in task performance, though this difference was only evident among females," said one researcher.

U.S. workplaces may need to consider innovative methods to prevent fatigue from developing in employees who are obese. Based on results from a new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH), workers who are obese may have significantly shorter endurance times when performing workplace tasks, compared with their non-obese counterparts.

Related Articles


The study, conducted at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., examined the endurance of 32 individuals in four categories (non-obese young, obese young, non-obese older, and obese older) who completed three distinct tasks that involved a range of upper extremity demands -- hand grip, intermittent shoulder elevation, and a simulated assembly operation. Each task involved periods of work and rest, and included pacing demands similar to those experienced by workers in manufacturing settings.

"Our findings indicated that on average, approximately 40 percent shorter endurance times were found in the obese group, with the largest differences in the hand grip and simulated assembly tasks. During those tasks, individuals in the obese group also exhibited greater declines in task performance, though this difference was only evident among females," said Lora A. Cavuoto, an assistant professor in the department of industrial and systems engineering at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, in Buffalo, New York.

In addition to examining how obesity affected physical demands and capacity, Cavuoto and her colleagues looked at the interactive effect of obesity and age on endurance times.

"Previous studies have indicated that both age and obesity lead to decreased mobility, particularly when it comes to walking and performing lower extremity tasks. However, we found no evidence of an interactive effect of obesity and age on endurance times, which is contrary to previous findings," said Maury A. Nussbaum, a professor in the department of industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech, who also worked on the study.

Obesity is associated with physiological changes at the muscular level, including a decrease in blood flow, thereby limiting the supply of oxygen and energy sources. When performing sustained contractions, these physiological changes may lead to a faster onset of muscle fatigue. The prevalence of obesity has doubled over the past three decades and this increase has been associated with more healthcare costs, higher rates of workplace injury, and a greater number of lost workdays.

According to Cavuoto and Nussbaum, the results from this and related studies will contribute to a better understanding of the ergonomic impacts of obesity and age, which is important for describing the link between personal factors and the risk of workplace injury.

"Workers who are obese may need longer rest breaks to return to their initial state of muscle function. Based on the increased fatigue found among workers who are obese, workplace designers may need to consider adding fixtures and supports to minimize the amount of time that body mass segments need to be supported. We believe our results will help to develop more inclusive ergonomic guidelines," said Cavuoto.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lora A. Cavuoto, Maury A. Nussbaum. The Influences of Obesity and Age on Functional Performance During Intermittent Upper Extremity Tasks. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 2014; 11 (9): 583 DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2014.887848

Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Obesity linked to low endurance, increased fatigue in the workplace." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723105953.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2014, July 23). Obesity linked to low endurance, increased fatigue in the workplace. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723105953.htm
Virginia Tech. "Obesity linked to low endurance, increased fatigue in the workplace." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723105953.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins