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The Impact of Weight Gain or Loss on Health Care Costs for Employees at the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies

Carls, Ginger Smith PhD; Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Henke, Rachel Mosher PhD; Bruno, Jennifer BS; Isaac, Fikry MD; McHugh, Janice DBA, RN, COHN-S

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 1 - p 8–16
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31820451fd
Original Articles: CME Available for this Article at

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.

From Health Outcomes, Thomson Reuters (Dr Carls), Ann Arbor, Mich; Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (Dr Goetzel), Emory University, Atlanta, Ga; Thomson Reuters (Dr Goetzel), Washington, DC; Thomson Reuters (Dr Henke), Cambridge, Mass; Johnson & Johnson Wellness & Prevention (Ms Bruno), New Brunswick, NJ; and Global Health Services (Dr Isaac) and Integrated Health Services (Dr McHugh), Johnson & Johnson Services Inc, New Brunswick, NJ.

Address correspondence to: Ginger Smith Carls, PhD, Health Outcomes, Thomson Reuters, 777 E Eisenhower Parkway, Ann Arbor, MI 48108;E–mail:

Ginger Smith Carls and coauthors received funding for this research from Johnson & Johnson.

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

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine