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August 19, 2013

Not California Dreaming

The recognition of obesity as a disease may have a significant impact on workers' compensation claims in California, a group said in a report on Thursday. The group issued the report following a decision in June by the American Medical Association House of Delegates reclassifying obesity as "a disease state."

In the past obesity in workers' comp went largely unreported because it was not considered a condition that needed to be addressed to treat most work related injuries or illnesses, according to the report from the California Workers' Compensation Institute ("CWCI").

But with obesity reclassified as a disease medical providers may feel a greater responsibility to counsel obese patients about their weight, or if treatment for a compensable injury causes significant weight gain, CWCI stated in its report. The changes even threaten to undo some of the gains the system is expected to experience from the passage last year of a sweeping workers' comp reform law, Senate Bill 863, which changes the way problems such as sleep disorders and sexual dysfunction are treated by the state's workers' comp system.