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A recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports employees that are obese cost most in healthcare terms than employees who smoke.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined the additional costs related to smoking and obesity among over 30,000 Mayo Clinic current and former employees.
Not surprisingly, they found that employees who were obese or smoked had higher overall healthcare costs. Compared to nonsmokers, average healthcare costs were $1,275 higher for smokers, $1,850 more for obese individuals and even as high as $5,500 more for those who were morbidly obese.
In recent years, smoking has been on the decline, whereas obesity rates have nearly doubled. Obesity has been linked with many chronic conditions including diabetes, which can increase risks for heart & kidney disease, high blood pressure and even blindness.
Current projections indicate that by 2018, over 43% of American adults will be classified as obese, which will in turn cost the US about $344 billion in medical-related expenses. This will equate to approximately 21% of all healthcare spending.
To battle this disturbing trend, many companies are taking action by introducing wellness, fitness and smoking cessation programs to the workplace. There has also been a growing movement by employers to incentivize employees who participate in its fitness program or quit smoking. Unfortunately, signups for these types of programs are still relatively low. Consequently, some companies are taking a hard-line approach by raising healthcare costs for employees who they deem “unhealthy.”
Source: American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine