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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    • "Corporate wellness programs offer an ideal platform for the dissemination of evidencebased weight management programs, as corporations have vested financial interest in improving employee health. Obesity costs employers up to $73.1 billion dollars per year in medical costs and absenteeism; per employee costs range from $322 to $6087 (from overweight to the highest category of obesity) in men, and from $797 to $6694 in women[8]. A 2012 survey found that almost 80% of companies employing over 1,000 people had corporate wellness programs[9], and this number is likely to increase with funding provisions in the Affordable Care Act[10]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Worksite wellness programs typically produce modest weight losses. We examined whether an efficacious Internet behavioral weight loss program could be successfully implemented in a worksite setting. Methods. Participants were 75 overweight or obese employees/dependents of a large healthcare system who were given access to a 12-week Internet-based, multicomponent behavioral weight loss program. Assessments occurred at baseline, Month 3 (end of intervention), and Month 6 (follow-up). Results. Retention was excellent (93% at Month 3 and 89% at Month 6). Intent-to-treat analyses demonstrated that participants lost an average (±SE) of -5.8±.60 kg from baseline to Month 3 and regained 1.1±.31 kg from Month 3 to Month 6; overall, weight loss from baseline to Month 6 was -4.7±.71 kg, p<.001. Men lost more weight than women, p=.022, and individuals who had a college degree or higher lost more weight than those with less education, p=.005. Adherence to viewing lessons (8 of 12) and self-monitoring (83% of days) was excellent and significantly associated with weight loss, ps<.05. Conclusions. An Internet-based behavioral weight management intervention can be successfully implemented in a worksite setting and can lead to clinically significant weight losses. Given the low costs of offering this program, it could easily be widely disseminated.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Journal of obesity
    • "There is overwhelming evidence that physical inactivity increases risks for obesity and cardiovascular diseases234. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of premature mortality, responsible for 9% of global deaths [5], and imposes significant costs through increased medical expenditures for treating NCDs and through reductions in productivity [6]. Since many of these costs are financed by employers, insurers, and governments, all three groups are keen to identify cost-effective strategies to increase the physical activity levels of their constituents. "
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    ABSTRACT: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are emerging as the predominant global health challenge of this century. Physical inactivity is one of the primary risk factors for NCDs. Therefore, increasing physical activity levels is a public health imperative. The arrival of affordable wearable technologies, such as wireless pedometers, provides one strategy for encouraging walking. However, the effectiveness of these technologies in promoting sustained behavior change has not been established. Insights from economics suggest that incentives may be a useful strategy for increasing maintenance and effectiveness of behavior change interventions, including physical activity interventions that rely on wearable technologies. The aim of this trial is to test the effectiveness of a common wireless pedometer with or without one of two types of incentives (cash or donations to charity) for reaching weekly physical activity goals. We present here the design and baseline characteristics of participants of this four arm randomized controlled trial. 800 full-time employees (desk-bound office workers) belonging to 15 different worksites (on average, 53 (sd: 37) employees at each worksite) were successfully randomized to one of four study arms. If shown to be effective, wearable technologies in concert with financial incentives may provide a scalable and affordable health promotion strategy for governments and employers seeking to increase the physical activity levels of their constituents. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Contemporary Clinical Trials
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · BMC Research Notes
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