Obesity in the Workplace Costs Employers Billions
A recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that work-related factors may impact the total cost of obesity among U.S. full-time employees even more than direct medical costs. The Duke University research team reported the total per capita cost to employers of obesity among U.S. full-time employees to be a staggering $73.1 billion. The researchers reportedly factored in for the first time the total value of lost job productivity as a result of obesity-related health problems (presenteeism) and absence from work (absenteeism). The study included data from the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the 2008 U.S. National Health and Wellness Survey in the evaluation of individuals who were normal weight, overweight and obese, using body mass index calculations (BMI). While presenteeism was determined to represent the largest cost among employees at a healthy weight, researchers found that obese workers accounted for a disproportionately larger share of overall presenteeism, absenteeism and medical expenses. Further, obese individuals with a BMI greater than 35 represented 61 percent of all obese employee costs, though they represent only 37 percent of the overall obese population.