Obesity and Work-Related Injuries Among Farmers in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia

Sharon Hunsucker, Deborah B. Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

1 Scopus citations


Background: Obesity is a recognized risk factor for work-related injuries (WRI). Despite the inherent safety hazards associated with farm work, research on obesity among farmers is limited giving little guidance to occupational health providers on obesity as a risk factor in farm WRI. This study evaluated the association between obesity and farm WRI. Methods: Cross-sectional data were collected from farmers (n = 100) in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Data included a survey (demographic data, farm factors, health indicators, occurrences of work-related injuries consistent with the definition of Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] recordable injuries) and direct anthropometric measures (height, weight, and waist circumference). Logistic regression was used to model any work-related injury, injuries consistent with the definition of OSHA recordables (herein called OSHA-recordable injuries), and recurrent injuries occurring during farm work performance on body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. Findings: Twenty-five percent of the participants reported any injuries, and 18% reported OSHA-recordable injuries. Farmers with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 had 3 times the risk for OSHA-recordable injuries and 5 times the risk for recurrent injuries. No significant relationship was identified between waist circumference and farm WRI. Conclusion: This study provides evidence that increased BMI is a safety risk for farmers. Prospective studies with a larger sample are needed. Occupational health nurses and providers should educate farmers on the potential safety risk of obesity and implement weight management programs addressing obesity in farmers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-579
Number of pages7
JournalWorkplace Health and Safety
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Grants from the Vice President of Research Fund, University of Kentucky and NOISH Southeast Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention supported this study. The contents of this paper have not been reviewed or endorsed by the funding agencies. The contents are the sole responsibility of the authors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s).


  • body mass index
  • farmers
  • waist circumference
  • work-related injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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