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Absenteeism among obese workers in the United States costs employers about $8.65 billion each year, according to a study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Costs associated with obesity-related work absences vary from state to state, reflecting variations in average daily earnings, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine said Thursday in a statement.
Obesity accounts for about 9.3% of all absenteeism costs nationwide, ranging from 6.5% in Washington, D.C., to 12.6% in Arkansas, according to the statement. And the study found that obese workers miss an extra 1.1 to 1.7 days of work each year compared with overweight or normal-weight workers.
“Obesity is associated with high direct costs for medical care, but the societal costs due to health-related work absences and reduced productivity could be even higher,” according to the statement.
The study examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 1998 to 2008, and from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for 2012.
Adults who have a body mass index of 30 or higher are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Employers should take a look at their workplaces to see if they accommodate the needs of overweight workers, according to a speaker at the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. conference in Denver.