Morbidly obese workers cost employers more than $4,000 a year more than normal-weight employees, according to a study published by American Journal of Health Promotion. The probability of disability, workers’ compensation claims, and the number of missed days due to any cause increases as workers’ Body Mass Index climbs above 25. Co-morbidities of obesity, like hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes, increase short-term disability claims and disability benefits.
The study estimates that normal weight employees cost on average of $3,830 per year in medical costs, sick days, short-term disability and workers’ comp claims. That figure jumps to $8,067 for morbidly obese employees. The study’s results proved to be even more dramatic than other peer-reviewed examinations of weight-related health costs in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 34.9 percent of U.S. adults are obese. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity was $147 billion in 2008; the medical costs, not including workplace productivity, were $1,429 higher for obese people than for those of normal weight.
Weight-related conditions like heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes are leading causes of preventable death. Obesity’s prevalence varies greatly by state. According to the CDC, in 2012 Colorado was the leanest state, with an obesity prevalence of 20.5 percent. Louisiana had the highest prevalence at 34.7 percent. Thirteen other states had an obesity prevalence equal to or higher than 30 percent.