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Nearly two-thirds of Americans are obese or overweight, and while it is commonly understood how this unhealthy epidemic is dangerous for our nation’s health, there are lesser-known consequences that affect safety in the workplace.

A study in 2007 reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology has shown that more overweight and obese people are involved in workplace injuries than others. Of the 7,690 workers in the study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Injury Research and Policy, 29% were injured on the job between January 2, 2002 and December 31, 2004; approximately 85% of whom were classified as overweight or obese.

With the apparent dangers created by workplace obesity, many employers are looking to creative incentives to help workers become healthier. Not only is this helpful in preventing work place injuries, but can also be cost-effective and greatly reduce the cost of health care.

Last month, Community Mercy Health Partners announced plans to use a $25k grant to support a workplace wellness program at Benjamin Steel in Springfield, Ohio. The program will have employees compete in a challenge to achieve the greatest reduction in body fat percentage in a competition that conjures images of the reality television program, The Biggest Loser.

For companies that would like a subtler, yet equally creative approach, there is a new product called the “Walkstation,” that has recently hit the market. The “Walkstation” is a combination office desk and treadmill, which allows people to work on their computers while walking on a treadmill at a very slow speed. While only time will tell if the “Walkstation” will be a feasible, cost-effective, or popular technology, the premise of allowing someone to burn a few extra calories instead of sitting at a desk all day is on the right track.

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