Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Obese employees cost employers thousands in extra medical costs

Date:
May 13, 2014
Source:
Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health
Summary:
On average, a morbidly obese employee costs an employer over $4,000 more per year in health care and related costs than an employee who is of normal weight, research shows. The study also revealed that obese individuals who had comorbidities such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol incurred more costs than obese workers without these conditions, says a co-author.

A new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion finds that, on average, a morbidly obese employee costs an employer over $4,000 more per year in health care and related costs than an employee who is of normal weight.

The study also revealed that obese individuals who had comorbidities such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol incurred more costs than obese workers without these conditions, says Karen Van Nuys, Ph.D., lead coauthor and economist at Precision Health Economics in Los Angeles.

"For example, someone who is overweight or obese and also has diabetes is more likely to file a short-term disability claim compared to someone who doesn't have diabetes but is overweight or obese."

The study analyzed data from nearly 30,000, mostly male employees over a three-year period and included self-reported employee health information, medical visits and prescription claims, and employer-reported data on absenteeism, short-term disability and workers compensation claims.

Compared with an employee with a body mass index of 25, an employee with a BMI of 35, which is considered obese, has nearly double the risk of filing a short-term disability claim or a workers' compensation claim. Normal weight employees cost an average of $3,830 per year in covered medical claims, sick days, short-term disability and workers compensation while a morbidly obese person costs employers more than double that at $8,067.

"Overweight/obesity are just one of several modifiable risk factors in the workplace -- but ones that are most problematic right now because they're getting worse by the minute," commented Ron Goetzel, Ph.D. of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Truven Health Analytics. Goetzel was not associated with the study.

Van Nuys and Goetzel cautioned that the results of this study and others like it should not be used to discriminate against overweight and obese employees. "There are all kinds of reasons why that response makes no sense at all, besides being potentially illegal, unethical, and impractical," says Goetzel. Given that two-thirds of all Americans are overweight or obese, such a tactic would significantly diminish the pool of qualified employees.

Goetzel explained that employers need to invest in robust, comprehensive health promotion programs for their employees that include physical activity, healthy eating, stress and depression management, and control of blood pressure and diabetes. "If you do those in combination and you do them right, not only is [this type of intervention] cost effective, in some cases it is cost beneficial, so that there is potentially even a return on investment here for employers."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. The original article was written by Katherine Kahn. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Karen Van Nuys, Denise Globe, Daisy Ng-Mak, Hoiwan Cheung, Jeff Sullivan, Dana Goldman. The Association Between Employee Obesity and Employer Costs: Evidence From a Panel of U.S. Employers. American Journal of Health Promotion, 2014; 28 (5): 277 DOI: 10.4278/ajhp.120905-QUAN-428

Cite This Page:

Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. "Obese employees cost employers thousands in extra medical costs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140513152933.htm>.
Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. (2014, May 13). Obese employees cost employers thousands in extra medical costs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140513152933.htm
Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. "Obese employees cost employers thousands in extra medical costs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140513152933.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins