Editorial: Employee Weight Loss is Good For Business.  

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Weight loss and management can reduce absenteeism at work.



A few years ago, studies confirmed that smokers have a higher absenteeism and that treating them with smoking cessation is good both the business and the employee.  It just makes sense from a health perspective that employees that quite will be less likely to miss work.  If health is the cause of smokers, could the higher body weight cause a similar absence from work in employees that are overweight or obese?  


An interesting study was released 2017 that looked at this issue.  The study[1] enrolled a group of obese and severely obese patients in a weight loss program that included and 800 calorie diet for three months followed by a maintenance phase.  For two years, the researchers followed the patient’s perceived productivity and their absenteeism from work.  The researchers found that workers went from working 5 hours fewer than expected to work 6 hours more than anticipated, but no change in perceived productivity.

Limitations of this study: 

  1. The study evaluated productivity as rated by the individual which may have introduced a degree of bias.  
  2. The study does not indicate a causality, or in other words, you cannot determine obesity as the cause of decrease productivity or increased absenteeism.  
  3. The study did not look at the overweight category of employees.

The Bottom Line:  The cost of obesity is skyrocketing.  Obesity is prematurely ending the careers of many workers.  It makes sense for both insurance and the workplace to offer time and coverage that includes weight loss programs.  Healthier employees will be less likely to miss work and thus should be more productive.  Also, employees that perceived their managers to care about their health tend to be happier at work.  

In recent years, smokers have been denied positions for some municipalities to lower insurance costs.  I can see the day when the same will be true for the obese and potentially for the overweight.  Hopefully, this inspires you to be more successful with your weight loss.  

[1]Iyengar, “Participation in a Weight Management Program Reduces Job Absenteeism.”
Iyengar, Jennifer J . “Participation in a Weight Management Program Reduces Job Absenteeism.” ENDO 2017. OR28-4. Endocrine Society, April 4, 2017. https://www.endocrine.org/news-room/current-press-releases/participation-in-a-weight-management-program-reduces-job-absenteeism.
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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