Work Injuries Compounded by Obesity

Man Eating Hamburger with SodaMore than a half billion men and women worldwide are now dangerously overweight, with global obesity rates now topping the 10% mark, according to new research published Thursday in the medical journal, The Lancet.

In the United States over 30% of adults are considered Obese. Obesity in the United States now carries the price tag of $147 billion per year in direct medical costs, which accounts for just over 9 percent of all medical spending, experts report.

As drastic as the cost of obesity is on the health care system, the cost of obesity is an issue for employers as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 75% of employers’ health care costs and productivity losses are related to employee lifestyle choices. That means over 75% of health care costs are associated with preventable issues!

More than Just the Price of Health Care

The problem even extends well beyond the cost of health care. A study conducted by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has concluded that obesity also decreases recovery outcomes in work related injury.

The study shows that work injuries have a much higher rate of permanent disability and decreased overall recovery prognosis. This is the case even when suffering the same injury type. The study goes on to demonstrate that in addition to an increased disability prognosis that the claim itself is higher in cost and takes longer to resolve in the obese workers. Read the full study here.

The issues with obesity and the workplace are only set to worsen. In fact the obesity rate in the US increased 37% in in just the 8 years between 1998 and 2006. Employers are truly starting to take note. Whether the focus in health is due to the increased costs, or whether employers just want to do the right thing, health and wellness programs as the job-site are becoming more and more common. According to the CDC health and wellness programs are paying off, wellness programs can save companies $3-$4 for every $1 spent.

As more and more studies are being conducted to demonstrate the cost of obesity. It is clear that we must do something, and do it soon.