More Health Risks for Autoworkers

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A new MSU study finds autoworkers in Michigan are at a higher risk of heart disease.

"One of the hypothesis was that they may have increase prevalence of diabetes, and that indeed turned out to be true," said MSU Professor of Medicine Ved Gossain. "The prevalence among auto workers at that time was like 15 percent, and at that time the prevalence of diabetes in the US in a comparable age group was like 7 and a half percent, so almost double."

The study looked at 190 auto workers from Lansing and Pontiac. It evaluated at risk factors such as obesity, smoking, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

"These auto workers had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and the cause of that might be increased prevalence of obesity, and increased prevalence of diabetes and increased uh bad cholesterol and all of these can be addressed by lifestyle modification, and the blood pressure is high, medication," said Gossain.

The study found 53 percent of the workers were obese with another 36 percent considered overweight. Sixty-seven percent of those studied also had higher levels of LDL compared to the national average of 31 percent. Results also showed 16 percent of employees were current smokers and nearly 58 percent were former smokers.

UAW says they've been pushing for a healthier lifestyle.

"They can have a work out center," said UAW Local 652 Vice President Randy Freeman. "We're trying to provide body care to them which is a GM, UAW joint venture that helps get the tools to understand where they're at so it checks their blood pressure and cholesterol."

"The bottom line remains to be the life style modification which means eating appropriately and being physically active," said Gossain.