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Obese workers cost workplace more than insurance, absenteeism
Date:10/7/2010

m, but our findings are the first to measure the incremental costs of presenteeism for obese individuals separately by BMI class and gender among full time employees," said Finkelstein, also associate research professor of global health at the Duke Global Health Institute. "Given that employers shoulder much of the costs of obesity among employees, these findings point to the need to identify cost-effective strategies that employers can offer to reduce obesity rates and costs for employees and families."

When all costs of obesity are combined, individuals with a body mass index greater than 35 (grades II and III obese) disproportionately account for 61 percent of the costs, yet they only represent 37 percent of the obese population. "The disproportionately high per capita and total cost of grade II and grade III obesity is particularly concerning given that these BMI ranges are the fastest-growing subset of the obese population," said Marco daCosta DiBonaventura of Kantar Health, a co-author of the study.

With a burgeoning obese population in the U.S., the study has important implications for employers, as they are faced with increasing costs to insure full-time workers.

"Our study provides evidence of yet another cost of obesity," said Finkelstein. "Employers should consider both the medical and productivity costs of obesity when thinking about investments in weight management or other wellness programs."

Finkelstein recommends that employers promote healthy foods in the workplace, encourage a culture of wellness from the CEO on down, and provide economic and other incentives to those employees who show clear signs of improving their health via weight loss, maintaining a healthy weight, and/or participation in health behavior activities that have a strong correlation with health improvements, such as walk-a-thons or gym attendance.


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Contact: Geelea Seaford
gseaford@duke.edu
919-681-7718
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

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