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A Return-on-Investment Simulation Model of Workplace Obesity Interventions

Trogdon, Justin PhD; Finkelstein, Eric A. PhD, MHA; Reyes, Michele PhD; Dietz, William H. PhD, MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 7 - p 751-758
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181a86656
Original Articles

Objective: To calculate return-on-investment (ROI) from workplace obesity interventions, employers require information about costs saved by the intervention. This article presents a simulation model used to calculate ROI for workplace obesity interventions.

Methods: We estimated annual savings in medical expenditures and absenteeism costs by amount of average weight loss for a nationally representative company. We also present several examples that use the model to evaluate the ROI for published workplace obesity interventions.

Results: Across all overweight and obese employees, 5% weight loss would result in a reduction in total annual costs (medical plus absenteeism) of $90 per person.

Conclusions: The results suggest that low-cost policy or environmental change interventions in worksites may be more likely to be cost saving than high cost, individually targeted behavioral change interventions unless they result in substantial weight loss.

From the RTI International (Dr Trogdon, Dr Finkelstein), Research Triangle Park, NC; and Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (Dr Reyes, Dr Dietz), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, Ga.

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 CDC, Sanofi Aventis, or RTI.

The authors have no financial interest related to this research.

Address correspondence to: Justin Trogdon, RTI International, 3040 Cornwallis Road, P.O. Box 12194, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2194; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine