The Cost Of Obesity In The Workplace

It’s long been understood that obesity can have a direct impact on healthcare costs for individuals. In fact, obesity-related diseases are said to be responsible for 10% of all medical spending in United States.

What’s less understood is the cost of obesity in the workplace. Obesity does more than drive up the price of healthcare; obesity actually impacts costs in the workplace.

Enlightening Research from Duke University

A study recently conducted by Duke University recently attempted to estimate the cost of obesity in the workplace by measuring three factors:

  • Lost productivity in the workplace.
  • Medical expenses of employees.
  • Work absences due to obesity-related illnesses and conditions.

During this study, it was determined that obesity costs are as high as $16,900 for each female employee and $15,500 for each male employee.

Why does obesity cost the employer so much money? The answer is complicated. Health problems caused by obesity can lead to “presenteeism,” that is, a problem that occurs when non-healthy employees come to work despite their illness or injury. Presenteeism costs businesses approximately 150 billion dollars annually, and can be as much or even more of a problem than absenteeism.

Presenteeism leads to a slow down in productivity. What’s worse, presenteeism doesn’t just slow down one employee, but often causes a domino effect that can slow down an entire department or an entire business, depending on the influence that the employee has over other people in the office.

In addition to the problem of presenteeism, obesity can also lead to flat-out absenteeism, which also costs businesses large sums annually.

What Employers Can Do

One of the best ways that employers can cut costs and improve wellness in the workplace is to address issues that lead to presenteeism and absenteeism. Addressing obesity through your company’s wellness program can lead to lower costs and greater productivity in the workplace. There are many ways that employers can address obesity among employees, including:

  • Encourage employees to take the stairs. Starting a campaign to encourage employees to take the stairs can help your employees exercise and lose weight.
  • Serve more healthy foods and snacks in the workplace cafeteria. Putting healthier options in front of employees can encourage them to eat right.
  • Organize a competition among employees that encourages them to work. By starting a competition that rewards employees who run or walk a certain distance each day, you encourage your employees to get exercise and help them lose weight.

Contact HealthyWorks Today

69% of adults over 20 in the United States are overweight, and over 35% are obese. Addressing obesity among employees through your company’s wellness program can help lower your healthcare costs and can also make your employees more productive, which can lead to increased profits and revenue.

If you’re wondering what you can do to lower rates of obesity in the workplace, contact us at HealthyWorks. During our initial consultation we’ll discuss with you the best ways to improve your wellness program and combat rates of obesity among your employees.