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J Occup Environ Med. 2012 May;54(5):604-9. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31824b2133.

The association between body mass index class, sickness absence, and presenteeism.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. heidi.janssens@ugent.be



To examine the relationship between body mass index class, presenteeism, and prospective registered sickness absence.


Data were collected from 2983 Belgian workers. Presenteeism was assessed by a single question, evaluating the frequency of being at work, despite illness, during the preceding year. Sickness absence data were registered during 12 months' follow-up. Multiple logistic regression analysis was conducted.


Body mass index class was positively and significantly associated with presenteeism (at least two occasions of working despite illness) in the male employees and was a significant predictor of high sickness absence (at least 10 sick leave days) in the female population. A final multivariate model demonstrated that these relations were only partly mediated by self-rated health.


The results of this study suggest a gender difference concerning absenteeism and presenteeism in overweight and obese employees.

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