Worker obesity costs more than healthcare

Oct. 9, 2010 at 1:07 AM
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DURHAM, N.C., Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The per capita costs of obesity for full-time U.S. employees are $16,900 for women 100 pounds overweight and $15,500 for obese men, researchers say.

Study leader Eric Finkelstein of Duke University and Duke-National University of Singapore says the study quantified the per capita cost of obesity among full-time workers by considering employee medical expenditures, lost productivity on the job due to health problems, known as presenteeism and absence from work or absenteeism.

The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, finds presenteeism makes up 56 percent of the total cost of obesity for women and 68 percent for men.

However, even among employees in the normal weight range, the value of lost productivity due to health problems far exceeded any medical costs.

Using 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the 2008 U.S. National Health and Wellness Survey, presenteeism was measured and monetized as the lost time between arriving at work and starting work on days when the employee is not feeling well, the average frequency of losing concentration, repeating a job, working more slowly than usual, feeling fatigued at work and doing nothing at work, Finkelstein says.

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