America’s Weighty Problem Part 3: Productivity Costs

Health care costs related to obesity are rivaled by productivity costs in their impact. In the U.S. alone it is estimated that obesity is associated with 39 million lost work days; 239 million restricted-activity days; 90 million bed days; and 63 million physician visits per year.  Studies have shown that obese workers are absent approximately 1-3 extra days per person, per year, compared with their normal weight counterparts and also that substantial weight loss in obese subjects can result in reduced sick leave.

Productivity costs, defined as the combination of mortality and morbidity costs, are attributed not only to that which an employer pays in productivity losses caused by premature death or health impairments that severely restrict an employee’s ability to work, but also take into account ailments that can interfere even temporarily with an employee’s capacity for production. Sleep apnea, respiratory problems, poor female reproductive health, and depression, conditions that can cause such temporary interference, have been proven to occur at a much higher rate in overweight and obese individuals.

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Free & Clear.


Ira S Wolfe


  1. Malcolm Chlan February 10, 2009 at 2:45 pm -

    Maybe employers can start implementing paid gym memberships or even really pushing health awareness to try play their part.