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The Association Between Changes in Metabolic Syndrome and Changes in Cost in a Workplace Population

Schultz, Alyssa B. PhD; Edington, Dee W. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 7 - p 771-779
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181a88da5
Original Articles

Objective: To determine whether changes in metabolic syndrome (MetS) risks over time are associated with commensurate changes in health care costs, pharmacy costs and short-term disability costs in an employed population.

Methods: A total of 3270 employees of a Midwestern manufacturing corporation participated in a health risk appraisal, biometric screening and in the company’s medical plan in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Changes in their MetS risks over time were compared with changes in costs.

Results: Risks for MetS in this manufacturing population are in a constant state of change. Changes in MetS status over time were associated with commensurate changes in health care, pharmacy, and short-term disability costs. Employees who reduced the greatest number of MetS risks over time had the largest cost decrease (−$437), whereas those who increased the greatest number of risks experienced the largest cost increase (+$1348).

Conclusions: If organizations are successful in encouraging the high-risk individuals to reduce their risks while also helping the low-risk employees remain low risk, they will improve the health and vitality of employees while also improving cost and productivity outcomes.

From the School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan Health Management Research Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.

CME Available for this Article at

Address correspondence to: Alyssa B. Schultz, PhD, University of Michigan Health Management Research Center, 1015 E. Huron St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1689; E-mail:

The authors have no financial interest related to this research.

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine