Saturday, June 02, 2012

The effect of “too much weight” on employers

This post shares some information about the impact the ever increasing trend of people weighing too much is having on employers. In looking into this we find the trend has been building over the last 50 years and the result is the percent of our population, which is overweight, has increased from 13% back then to 34% today!

What does this mean to employers?

● A person who is considered “just overweight” has an additional $1,850 in medical treatment expenses.

● A person whose body mass index (BMI) is between 35 to 40 creates $3,086 in additional expenses.

● When the BMI is above 40 the additional cost is $5,530!

Bottom line – putting all this together results in 20% of the health care spending in the US is now connected to obesity.

BTW individuals who are not obese end up having to pay more because of these overweight employees.

In comparison to the “too much weight” issue the additional cost when a person smokes is $1,274!

There are some other costs to employers because of the problem our society now faces:

● Employees whose BMI is above 40 have higher absenteeism costs - $1,262 for females and $1,026 for males. This may be better understood in term of sick days. Obese females take 9.4 more days and males 5.9 more than employees who have an ideal weight.

● The obesity problem also results in lower productivity!

What to do?

There is no magic quick fix solution but employers can work on steps such as:

● Create an on-going program with information to increase understanding on how a person who achieves a normal weight lives a better life.

● Introducing a wellness program. This requires a commitment and personal involvement from management and is not a one size fits all approach. Instead it’s a one to one program.

John C Parker, RHU, LTCP