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Int J Obes (Lond). 2009 Aug;33(8):807-16. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.121. Epub 2009 Jun 16.

The relationship between overweight and obesity, and sick leave: a systematic review.

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  • 1Department of Public and Occupational Health and EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 7, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



To investigate the relationship between overweight and obesity and sick leave.


Systematic, qualitative review.


A search in diverse databases was performed. Studies were considered as relevant if they were longitudinal in design and investigated the relationship between overweight and obesity and sick leave.


The methodological quality of the studies was evaluated with a quality criteria list. To draw conclusions, a best-evidence synthesis was applied.


Thirteen studies were included. Four out of seven found overweight to be a predictor of long-term sick leave, whereas the remaining three showed a positive trend, but did not observe significance. Of the five studies investigating the relationship between overweight and short-term sick leave, inconsistent results were shown. Seven out of eight studies investigating the relationship with long-term sick leave found obesity as a significant predictor of long-term sick leave. In contrast, there were inconsistent results between the five studies examining the relationship between obesity and short spells of sick leave.


Although this review found inconclusive evidence for a relationship between overweight and sick leave, a clear trend was discerned in that overweight was a predictor of especially long spells (>7 days) of sick leave. As regards obesity, there was strong evidence for a positive relationship with sick leave because of the consistent finding that obesity was a significant predictor of long-term sick leave.

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