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Obesity Crisis and Its Impact on the Workplace

  • Synopsis: Published: 2011-05-20 (Revised/Updated 2015-01-15) - New report updates employers on current trends related to the obesity epidemic impact on the workplace today. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Lockton at www.lockton.com.

Main Document

Quote: "The impact of being overweight or obese carries forward into the workplace in terms of productivity, fitness to work, and the impact of illnesses related to weight."

Lockton expert shares insights on current obesity trends, wellness tips for employers, and treatment options like bariatric surgery.

Lockton has issued a new report to update employers on current trends related to the obesity epidemic's impact on the workplace.

  • About 74 percent of the adult U.S. population (age 20 years and older) is either overweight or obese
  • Medical costs associated with obesity are estimated at $168.4 billion per year
  • The increase in obesity prevalence accounts for 12 percent of the growth in healthcare spending

The report - The Obesity Crisis and Its Health Risk Management Options - examines methods companies can employ to help promote healthy choices and behaviors in the workplace. By instituting these programs, many companies can ultimately reduce overall risk and cost of employee health benefit plans.

The report states, however, that some traditional wellness programs may not provide enough assistance to morbidly obese employees. In that case, companies can consider offering an Optimal Bariatric Surgery Plan Benefit. Though by no means a "silver bullet" in ensuring long-term weight loss, bariatric surgery has shown to be an effective treatment option for patients who are dedicated to a lifelong weight management strategy. The report notes that "bariatric surgery is only effective if the patient complies with all recommended pre- and post-op treatment plans (the surgery doesn't remove any weight; it makes it easier to reduce weight). The individual must have demonstrated some success in losing weight through diet and exercise, but failed to achieve enough weight loss to further reduce the effects of morbid obesity."

"There is sufficient research and clinical consensus that bariatric surgery for the right individuals can be highly effective in reducing certain medical conditions related to morbidity," said Ian Chuang, M.D., senior vice president and medical director for Lockton Benefit Group, and author of the report. "Employers must consider, beyond state mandates, how this expensive treatment fits into the health benefit plan, and overall mission for improving the health and wellness of employees."

Chuang added, "The impact of being overweight or obese carries forward into the workplace in terms of productivity, fitness to work, and the impact of illnesses related to weight. When you consider the workplace is where employees spend up to a third of their days, it is clear employers have an opportunity to indirectly influence employees through programs that promote healthy choices and behaviors."

The Report: The Obesity Crisis and Its Health Risk Management Options , is available free at Lockton.com

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  1. Obesity Rates for American Adults Stable but Child and Minority Obesity Rising
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