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Obesity Raises Healthcare Costs for Employers 01/25/2003
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Obesity Raises Healthcare Costs for Employers

A recent study by the University of Michigan shows that obesity does more than just make it wear the latest fashions.  It dramatically increases health-related costs for employers.   Overweight and obese people incur up to $1,500 more in annual medical bills than healthy-weight people.

The study by Dee Edington, PhD., published in the current issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, is the first to examine the relationship between weight, as defined by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s weight guidelines,  and medical costs. 

Edington and colleagues followed 180,000 employees of General Motors, their spouses and their adult children for two years.  They found that 40% of those in the study were overweight and 21% were obese.  Only 37% were within the range for healthy weight.

Employees in the healthy-weight group had the lowest annual medical costs.  As the Body-Mass Index (a measure of obesity) increased, so did medical costs.  The effect was not limited to older employees, either.  Among those under age 55 the overweight groups’ costs were “significantly more” than the normal groups.

This study highlights both the potential improvements in health for individuals who lower their weight to normal levels and the huge potential savings in healthcare costs for corporations that institute nutrition, fitness and health programs to help their employees lose weight.

 

Obesity Raises Healthcare Costs for Employers