Obesity is not a subject that a lot of people speak about in the open. It is a sensitive subject, but that does not mean that it is not happening throughout the world today. Obesity comes with many different diseases and problems, such as diabetes, but it also can affect the business as a whole with decreased productivity, replacement of wages and increasing medical costs. The question often comes up about whether or not the employer can do anything in order to address this problem. Providing the most effective type of health-insurance coverage is essential, but what exactly is going to help their employees?
A report was filed that showed how many U.S. employees are obese and how this is affecting the workplace. The report also addressed how weight-control programs and wellness programs are or are not helping to curb this problem throughout the workplace.
Health-Care Costs and Obesity
The cost of health care is going up, and obesity is the No. 1 reason why.
- More than one-third of Americans are obese and this is a growing number.
- Health-care spending has topped $200 billion; more than 20 percent of health-care spending includes indirect costs. The spending costs associated with obese Americans is more than $450 billion.
- Chronic diseases (as determined by the CDC) such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis account for 75 percent of health-care costs. All of these problems are linked to obesity.
- Obesity rates are on track to double by 2030 if something is not done to address this issue. This will increase health-care spending to between $40 million and $70 billion.
- 95 percent of diabetics have type II diabetes, and more than half of these diabetics are obese. The cost for diabetes care is more than $145 billion every year.
Obesity and the Workplace
- Obese men use six more sick days than those who are not obese. Obese women use more than nine sick days a year compared to women who are not obese. This costs businesses more than $6 billion annually.
- The average cost of claims per 100 employees is more than $50,000 for obese employees compared to only $7,000 for those that are not obese.
- Obese employees can cost a business more than $70 billion a year, plus double the amount of workers’ compensation claims.
- More than 65 percent of employers identify poor health habits of obese employees as one challenge to maintain health coverage on their employees.
Strategies to Curb Obesity
A lot of employers are trying to curb obesity in the workplace. They are hoping that wellness or weight-control programs can better control the situation. They want healthy habits to influence these employees and cut down on weight problems in the workplace. This can help the company keep health-care costs down. Three strategies that are currently being used are:
- Competition weight loss or fitness throughout the company to see who can lose the most and make it fun for everyone that is involved.
- Modification of lifestyle programs such as workout areas, Weight Watchers, treadmill desks or switching to healthy vending-machine fare.
- Incentives to help employees lose weight, take a health risk assessment and manage diseases (including smoking) in order to help them better themselves.