obesity workplace wellness

Study: Obesity Drives U.S. Health Care Costs Up

Chronic disease management is a key part of a well-run workplace wellness program, and one important factor in this effort is a continual focus on obesity.

A new report demonstrates why: The health costs add up.

As background, we’ve noted that the State of Obesity report headlines: “Workplace wellness programs boost employee health and productivity and reduce absenteeism.”

The report states: “Research demonstrates that multicomponent workplace wellness programs can be an important strategy in preventing and reducing obesity. A number of reviews have found these initiatives can pay for themselves by increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism. They also have been shown to reduce weight, body fat and BMI, and increase physical activity. Many state health departments have developed resources to assist employers in creating effective wellness programs, such as the Work Well Texas program discussed in a subsequent section.”

We’ve also noted that how exposure to communities with higher rates may correlate to increased body mass index (BMI) and risk of overweight of individual residents.

The study, “Association of Exposure to Communities With Higher Ratios of Obesity with Increased Body Mass Index and Risk of Overweight and Obesity Among Parents and Children,” found that “exposure to communities with higher rates of obesity is associated with higher BMI and greater risk of overweight and/or obesity in parents and children, and this may suggest the presence of social contagion.”

Report on Obesity

Now a new Cornell University study published in Science News notes: “Obesity drives U.S. health care costs up by 29 percent, varies by state.”

Said John Cawley, professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University: “We have, for the first time, estimated the percentage of health care spending that is devoted to obesity, using microdata for each state.”

The report notes that “Overall, the authors found the percent of U.S. national medical expenditures devoted to treating obesity-related illness in adults rose from 6.13 percent in 2001 to 7.91 percent in 2015, an increase of 29 percent.”

These are just some of the reasons that many employers utilize a well-run workplace wellness program to help employees address chronic disease management.