Obesity costing workplace productivity
Lost productivity due to obesity-related ailments is costing American companies almost $9 billion a year, according to a new study at Columbia University and Yale.
The researchers conducted the study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, by comparing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1998 to 2008. They looked at height, weight, and missed workdays for almost 15,000 people, then cross-analyzed these with BMI data for more than 100,000 people in 2012.
They found that the higher the BMI or the higher above the obesity threshold, the greater the number of recorded absences from work. The researchers believe this is because obesity adds greater risk for many other health conditions. They were not able to pinpoint the specific conditions that caused the absences, but believe they are most likely due to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Compared to normal-weight workers, those with a BMI of 30 to about 35 missed 27 percent more workdays per year, while the most severely obese--those with a BMI of 40 or higher--were absent 44 percent more often.
On average, a company can lose anywhere from $290 to $465 a year for just one employee due to obesity, according to the report. Once the researchers added the numbers up nationally, they estimated that the US incurs productivity costs of almost $9 billion. The highest productivity losses--$907 million--were in California.