Objective: To quantify the impact of weight gain or weight loss on health care costs.
Methods: Employees completing at least two health risk assessments during 2002 to 2008 were classified as adding, losing, or staying at high/low risk for each of the nine health risks including overweight and obesity. Models for each risk were used to compare cost trends by controlling for employee characteristics.
Results: Employees who developed high risk for obesity (n = 405) experienced 9.9% points higher annual cost increases (95% confidence interval: 3.0%–16.8%) than those who remained at lower risk (n = 8015). Employees who moved from high to lower risk for obesity (n = 384), experienced annual cost increases that were 2.3% points lower (95% confidence interval: −7.4% to 2.8%) than those who remained high risk (n = 1699).
Conclusions: Preventing weight gain through effective employee health promotion programs is likely to result in cost savings for employers.