People Innovation Excellence

Obesity linked to low endurance




Workplace designers need to innovate to prevent fatigue in obese employees

According to a recent study by two industrial engineering professors, it examined people in four categories: non-obese young, obese young, non-obese older and obese older. The subjects completed three typical work tasks involving upper extremity demands: hand grip, intermittent shoulder elevation and a simulated assembly operation. The results showed that obese workers might have significantly shorter endurance times.

The largest differences were in the hand grip and simulated assembly tasks, said Lora A. Cavuoto, an assistant professor in Department of ISE at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. Females in the obese group showed greater declines in task performance.

She said that obese workers need longer rest breaks to return their muscle function. Therefore, workplace designers need to consider adding fixtures and supports. She believes the results will help to develop more inclusive ergonomic guidelines.

Maury A. Nussbaum, a professor in the Department of ISE at Virginia Tech, noted that their study differed from earlier ones that linked both aging and obesity to decreased mobility, which both of them have no interactive effect on endurance times.

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