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Medical Expenses, Absenteeism Jump With Obesity

A few months ago, I told you about the frighteningly high health costs associated with the morbidly obese. Fact is, merely being obese takes a terrible toll on our nation's overall health bills too, according to a new study of 20,000 full-time employees.

The numbers pretty much speak for themselves:

  • Men and women who range from 30-60 pounds over their ideal weight add $462 and $1,372, respectively, when extra medical costs and absenteeism are factored into the mix.
  • A company with 1,000 employees can expect to pay nearly $300,000 in missed time and medical costs. Almost a third of that total stems from obese employees missing work.
  • Although morbidly obese employees make up only 3 percent of the workers in this country, they account for 21 percent of the medical costs associated with obesity.

This study also doesn't take into account recent research that found obese workers earn significantly less -- more than $3 an hour -- than insured workers who maintain a healthy weight. But it does confirm a study I posted last month that found women are affected far more acutely by their obesity than men, especially in the pocketbook.

If you want to learn how to improve your eating habits and lose those extra pounds, there are plenty of free resources available on my Web site to get you started. First and foremost, is learning more about your body's unique nutritional type by taking my free test.

American Journal of Health Promotion September-October 2005

USA Today September 12, 2005

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