Saturday, April 25, 2020

Obesity Impacts Productivity in the Workplace

Obesity is a pressing problem in the United States. Obesity is associated with a great number of comorbidities which negatively affect the health of many Americans. And obesity has a cost associated with it— both healthcare costs and workplace costs. The obesity-related healthcare costs result from the associated comorbidities that are diagnosed and treated. The obesity-related workplace costs result from low productivity in the workplace.

One review study, reported on in 2017, looked at 50 studies pertaining to the costs associated with obesity. The investigators indicated that absenteeism and presenteeism (where a worker is at work, but his or her productivity is low), contributed to increased costs.

And the investigators concluded that “the evidence [from the review] predominantly confirms substantial short-term and long-term indirect costs of overweight and obesity in the absence of effective customized prevention programs and thus demonstrates the extent of the burden of obesity beyond the healthcare sector.”

Another more recent study shows that absenteeism and disability associated with obesity lead to increased costs due to productivity loss. Indeed, the researchers concluded that for "men, BMI and waist circumference accounted for approximately 60% and approximately 30% of retirement [respectively,] due to disability." And for women, BMI and waist circumference accounted for "approximately 19% and approximately 8%," respectively, due to disability.

The researchers went on to conclude that “total and abdominal obesity were responsible for increased costs from productivity loss due to early retirement among adults 50 years old or older.”

So, many healthcare providers and those in the workplace may be aware of the productivity loss associated with obesity and overweight. And some employers are taking action to curb obesity within the organization by offering wellness programs. Let’s hope that healthcare providers and employers can work together to halt the obesity epidemic. Healthcare providers, employers and employees will benefit.


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