HR Strange But True!
May 19, 2009

Candidate pools are getting bigger--and heavier! A coalition of Boston researchers has found that 75 percent of candidates for an extremely strenuous job in Massachusetts are either overweight or obese, reported online research journal Obesity.

Of 370 applicants studied who made recruit status as emergency responders, only 22 percent were classified as being of normal weight, while around 44 percent were overweight, and 33 percent were obese.

These results are deemed unusual because these jobs, which are extremely strenuous, had previously attracted persons of above-average fitness. Now, however, “given the current obesity epidemic, the candidate pool is currently drawn from increasingly heavy Americans,” concluded the study and quoted in BLR's OSHA Compliance Advisor newsletter.

The study, “The Obesity Epidemic and Future Emergency Responders,” by the Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, the Cambridge Health Alliance, and Harvard University and funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, warns of economic implications from an applicant pool that is prone to the results of excess weight, including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and orthopedic problems. Federal and state legislation awards substantial benefits to emergency responders who die or are disabled, even if not directly related to a specific incident, but because of the highly stressful nature of the job. And these benefits could adversely impact cash-strapped local and state government budgets.

Sources: Obesity and OSHA Compliance Advisor

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