How the Obesity Epidemic Costs Employers
Not only has obesity been found to be more costly to employers than any other medical condition or smoking, new statistics from Compliance and Safety show that the condition is causing more damage than simply raising the healthcare bottom line. In fact, one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese and have become a severe burden on their employers.
With obesity, the risks of a list of serious medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, rise dramatically. The presence of such ailments are heavy contributors to lost productivity and absenteeism in the workplace. Every five percent increase in body mass raises risks for esophageal cancer and colon cancer in men by 52 percent and 24 percent, respectively. For women, increased obesity raises the chances of contracting endometrial and gall bladder cancer by 59 percent and post-menopausal breast cancer by 12 percent.
The CDC has reported annual medical costs of diseases related to obesity at $147 billion, well above the combined $120.6 billion in costs due to smoking and alcohol-related disease. Over five years, the cost for treating obesity-related diseases increased by more than 80 percent and include jumps in costs for preventative care, diagnostics, treatment, lost productivity, absenteeism, and premature death. Each year, employers of full-time obese employees are paying an additional $73.1 billion at a cost of $15,500 per capita per severely obese man and $16,900 per capita per obese woman.