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The Costs of Obesity in the Workplace

Finkelstein, Eric A. PhD; DiBonaventura, Marco daCosta PhD; Burgess, Somali M. PhD; Hale, Brent C. RPh

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 10 - p 971-976
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181f274d2
Original Articles

Objective: To quantify per capita and aggregate medical expenditures and the value of lost productivity, including absenteeism and presenteeism, because of overweight, and grade I, II, and III obesity among U.S. employees.

Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the 2008 National Health and Wellness Survey.

Results: Among men, estimates range from −$322 for overweight to $6087 for grade III obese men. For women, estimates range from $797 for overweight to $6694 for grade III. In aggregate, the annual cost attributable to obesity among full-time employees is $73.1 billion. Individuals with a body mass index >35 represent 37% of the obese population but are responsible for 61% of excess costs.

Conclusions: Successful efforts to reduce the prevalence of obesity, especially among those with a body mass index >35, could result in significant savings to employers.

From the Health Services and Systems Research Program (Dr Finkelstein), Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore; Health Economics and Outcomes Research (Dr DiBonaventura), KantarHealth, New York, NY; and Global Health Outcomes Strategy and Research (Dr Burgess, Mr Hale), Allergan Inc., Irvine, Calif.

CME Available for this Article at

The views expressed in the article are those of the authors only and do not necessarily represent those of Duke-NUS, KantarHealth, or Allergan, Inc.

Authors Eric Andrew Finkelstein, Eric Marco d DiBonaventura, Somali M Burgess, Brent C Hale received funding for this research from Allergan Inc.

The JOEM Editorial Board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Address correspondence to: Eric Finkelstein, Health Services and Systems Research Program, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, 8 College Road, Singapore 169857; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine