Obesity-related work absences cost billions: study

New Haven, CT – Obese workers cost the nation about $8.65 billion per year and miss more work than normal-weight workers, according to a recent study from Yale University.

Researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1998 through 2008, as well as the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. They found that obese employees were absent an average of 1.1 to 1.7 extra days of work each year compared to normal-weight workers. However, workers who were overweight but not obese showed no increase in days missed.

In the study, the costs associated with obesity-related absences varied by state. Obesity accounted for an average 9.3 percent of total absenteeism costs, ranging from 6.5 percent in the District of Columbia to 12.6 percent in Arkansas. The researchers concluded that state legislatures and employers should explore measures to lower costs associated with obesity-related work absences.

The study was published in the November issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.