Obesity could cost businesses billions

24 November 2014

Employees that have to take time off work due to an obesity-related issue could be costing the economy billions, a new study has suggested.

Research from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health shows that obesity costs the US $8.65 billion (£5.5 billion) every year, as a result of absenteeism in the workplace. This accounts for more than nine per cent of all costs from employees taking time away from the workplace. 

The study, which is published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, suggests that the impact of obesity goes beyond healthcare.

"Obesity and healthy-living behaviours are often seen as just individual choices," noted Y. Claire Wang, Mailman School associate professor of Health Policy and Management and senior author. "But our paper really highlights the fact that the burden is beyond just individual choices."

To determine the cost of obesity in relation to worker productivity, the team used nationally representative data about height, weight, and missed workdays for health reasons. Nearly 15,000 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1998 to 2008 were identified for the study. 

Posted by Edward Bartel


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