Cavuoto To Speak June 10 on Impacts of Aging and Obesity on Worker Capabilities and Injury Risk

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lora Cavuoto, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Buffalo, will speak June 10 on the influence of obesity on job demands and worker capacity on the University of Iowa campus. Her talk will be held at 10:00 a.m. in the Long Classroom, 3505 Seamans Center.

Her presentation is hosted by the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design.

More than two-thirds of the US adult population is now either overweight or obese, a doubling of the prevalence of obesity over the past 30 years. Obesity can modify biomechanical demands and affect individual capacity in terms of muscular and psychomotor function. Previous research has addressed the general effect of obesity on the risks of injury and illness (e.g., cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders), but less evidence is documented on the acute effects of obesity on central and peripheral components of performance that may lead to these disorders.

Cavuoto's presentation will highlight the results of two of recent investigations focused on the assessment of obesity-related differences in physical capacity, particularly fatigue, cardiorespiratory response, and kinematics during manual materials handling tasks. The objective of the first study was to evaluate the work strategies of obese and lean individuals during a standardized lifting task at a psychophysically determined work level. For the second study, differences in cerebral oxygenation and cardiorespiratory responses between groups were examined for an incremental lifting task performed to exhaustion.

Outcomes of the studies will enhance the understanding of the impact of obesity on a worker’s physiological ability and biomechanical response. The knowledge gained can allow for the design of better ergonomic interventions, as specific accommodations may be needed for workers who are obese, thereby improving workplace productivity and reducing the associated risk of injury.

Cavuoto joined the University at Buffalo in 2012 after receiving her Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech. She directs the Ergonomics and Biomechanics Laboratory where she evaluates the impacts of aging and obesity on worker capabilities and injury risk.

The talk is free and open to the public.  Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, contact the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design at (319) 335-5722.