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Eschewing the Fat

Eschewing the Fat

by Frank Roche on November 6, 2006

in Wellness

Obesity is costing your company a fortune. Consider these statics from a Knowledge@Wharton article titled Efforts Are Growing to Trim the Fat from Employees — and Employers’ Health Care Costs (reg. req’d):

Obesity and overweight conditions contribute as much as $93 billion to the nation’s yearly medical bill, according to studies reviewed by the National Business Group on Health, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization that represents large companies. Of that amount, the total cost of obesity to U.S. companies is estimated at more than $13 billion per year — a price tag that includes $8 billion for added health insurance costs, $2.4 billion for paid sick leave, $1.8 billion for life insurance and $1 billion for disability insurance. According to recent studies on the economic cost of workplace obesity, that translates into 39 million lost work days, 239 million days where work activity is restricted, 90 million sick days or days in bed and 63 million visits to physicians.

The numbers are startling. But obesity is a very sensitive subject, and one that HR has to be super careful about broaching in the workplace. Just putting up posters or sponsoring a few Weight Watchers meetings won’t do. It’s going to require sensitivity, sensibility, and stick-to-it-tiveness. It’s going to require money and it’s going to require time. I wish I had the magic answer on this one, but I don’t even have it for myself. I know the deal – more exercise, healthier eating, more green vegetables and fruits, plenty of sleep, less stress. I’m not sure how all that fits in a late 2006 workaday world, but a price tag of $13 billion a year to companies, and the doggone real effect of shortening life, I guess I’d better get going on it.

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