A recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine associated obesity with significant increases in absenteeism among American workers that costs the nation over $8 billion per year in lost productivity. From researchers at Yale’s Rudd Center, the study “suggests that the health consequences of obesity negatively impact the workforce, and in turn create a significant financial challenge for the nation as well as individual states.”
The study is the first of its kind to provide state-level estimates of obesity-attributable costs of absenteeism among working adults in the United States. Annual “obesity-attributable absenteeism costs ranged across states from $14.4 million (Wyoming) to $907 million (California) per year. Overall, a total national loss in productivity because of obesity-related absenteeism was estimated at $8.65 billion per year, which is 9.3% of all absenteeism costs.”
Employers should embrace the full economic benefits of wellness programs, which go beyond just cost containment for medical expenses. A significant benefit of wellness programs include reductions in absenteeism, which have been shown to fall $2.73 for every dollar invested in wellness. Additionally, employers will receive economic benefits from reductions in presenteeism (coming to work sick) and improvements in retention and recruiting.