The Costs of Obesity in the Workplace

Health Services and Systems Research Program, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore.
Journal of occupational and environmental medicine / American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.63). 09/2010; 52(10):971-6. DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181f274d2
Source: PubMed


To quantify per capita and aggregate medical expenditures and the value of lost productivity, including absenteeism and presenteeism, because of overweight, and grade I, II, and III obesity among U.S. employees.
Cross-sectional analysis of the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the 2008 National Health and Wellness Survey.
Among men, estimates range from -$322 for overweight to $6087 for grade III obese men. For women, estimates range from $797 for overweight to $6694 for grade III. In aggregate, the annual cost attributable to obesity among full-time employees is $73.1 billion. Individuals with a body mass index >35 represent 37% of the obese population but are responsible for 61% of excess costs.
Successful efforts to reduce the prevalence of obesity, especially among those with a body mass index >35, could result in significant savings to employers.

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    • "In the US in 2010, Finklestein et al. [35] used data from MEPS (for healthcare costs) and the National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS) (for data on absenteeism and presenteeism) to estimate costs on a cross sectional basis. BMI was based on self-reported data. "
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    ABSTRACT: The rising prevalence of overweight and obesity places a financial burden on health services and on the wider economy. Health service and societal costs of overweight and obesity are typically estimated by top-down approaches which derive population attributable fractions for a range of conditions associated with increased body fat or bottom-up methods based on analyses of cross-sectional or longitudinal datasets. The evidence base of cost of obesity studies is continually expanding, however, the scope of these studies varies widely and a lack of standardised methods limits comparisons nationally and internationally. The objective of this review is to contribute to this knowledge pool by examining direct costs and indirect (lost productivity) costs of both overweight and obesity to provide comparable estimates. This review was undertaken as part of the introductory work for the Irish cost of overweight and obesity study and examines inconsistencies in the methodologies of cost of overweight and obesity studies. Studies which evaluated the direct costs and indirect costs of both overweight and obesity were included. A computerised search of English language studies addressing direct and indirect costs of overweight and obesity in adults between 2001 and 2011 was conducted. Reference lists of reports, articles and earlier reviews were scanned to identify additional studies. Five published articles were deemed eligible for inclusion. Despite the limited scope of this review there was considerable heterogeneity in methodological approaches and findings. In the four studies which presented separate estimates for direct and indirect costs of overweight and obesity, the indirect costs were higher, accounting for between 54% and 59% of the estimated total costs. A gradient exists between increasing BMI and direct healthcare costs and indirect costs due to reduced productivity and early premature mortality. Determining precise estimates for the increases is mired by the large presence of heterogeneity among the available cost estimation literature. To improve the availability of quality evidence an international consensus on standardised methods for cost of obesity studies is warranted. Analyses of nationally representative cross-sectional datasets augmented by data from primary care are likely to provide the best data for international comparisons.
    BMC Research Notes 04/2014; 7(1):242. DOI:10.1186/1756-0500-7-242
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    • "Obesity affects over one third of the US population [1], and obesity-associated health conditions result in excess economic costs of $147 billion per year in the United States [2]. In addition to direct healthcare costs from obesity, current estimates of financial losses due to obesity-related absenteeism and presenteeism (low productivity while on the job) are currently in the range of $73 billion annually [3]. Projections from a recent report [4] indicate that by 2030 medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases could increase by $48–$66 billion per year, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 and $580 billion annually. "
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    ABSTRACT: Obesity is related to high health care costs and lost productivity in the workplace. Employers are increasingly sponsoring weight loss and wellness programs to ameliorate these costs. We evaluated weight loss outcomes, treatment utilization, and health behavior change in a low intensity phone- and web-based, employer-sponsored weight loss program. The intervention included three proactive counseling phone calls with a registered dietician and a behavioral health coach as well as a comprehensive website. At six months, one third of those who responded to the follow-up survey had lost a clinically significant amount of weight (≥5% of body weight). Clinically significant weight loss was predicted by the use of both the counseling calls and the website. When examining specific features of the web site, the weight tracking tool was the most predictive of weight loss. Health behavior changes such as eating more fruits and vegetables, increasing physical activity, and reducing stress were all predictive of clinically significant weight loss. Although limited by the low follow-up rate, this evaluation suggests that even low intensity weight loss programs can lead to clinical weight loss for a significant number of participants.
    Journal of obesity 01/2014; 2014:414987. DOI:10.1155/2014/414987
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    • "The rise in BMI and the prevalence of obesity will increase the social cost of the management and treatment of obesity and its related diseases [9]. Obesity will also increase workers’ absence from work and decrease labor productivity [10]. Not only that, but obesity also increases the amount of money that must be paid for workers’ compensation. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study was carried out to analyze and compare the occupational factors that could influence changes in body mass index (BMI) in male manual workers stratified into short-term and long-term work experience groups. The subjects were 299 male manual workers (sampled systematically) from 27 workplaces, who had undergone travelling medical examinations at a university hospital between March 28 and May 10, 2013, and had also undergone medical examinations at the same hospital in 2012. Their general and occupational characteristics were investigated through a structured, self-administered questionnaire. The BMI at each point in time was calculated based on the anthropometric results of the medical examinations. Multiple regression analyses were conducted on outcomes of the BMI change and predictors composed of the general and occupational characteristics, with the subjects stratified into groups with 5 years or less (short-term) versus more than 5 years (long-term) of work experience at the present post. In the short-term work experience group, the BMI increases of 3-shift workers and groups reporting disagreement with feeling "insufficient job control" and "lack of reward" at work, two of the subscales of job stress, were significantly higher than those of daytime workers and high-stress groups, respectively. In the long-term work experience group, However, although the BMI increase for 3-shift workers was also significantly higher than that of daytime workers, none of the job stress factors were significantly associated with a BMI increase, whereas the social factors of education and marital status were significant, and some lifestyle factors (such as smoking and regular exercise) were also significant. This study showed that, except for 3-shift work, the factors associated with BMI increase could differ depending on the length of job experience. Consequently, different strategies may be needed for workers with short-term versus long-term job experience when designing interventions for preventing their obesity.
    12/2013; 25(1):40. DOI:10.1186/2052-4374-25-40
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