Research: Workplace weight loss programs may reduce absenteeism.

Research wordResearch word

Workplace weight loss programs assist with weight loss and do not reduce productivity.

Weight loss

Many workplaces have instituted employee health programs that will help employees lose weight and improve their health. They are very popular and improve employee morale. To this date there is been limited evidence to indicate weight loss programs have any impact on employee health or quality of life. Many employers are hesitant to implement them because of fear that it may reduce the productivity and availability of employees to perform their job.

Research February 2019 appears to show favorable evidence in support of employee health and weight loss programs​[1]​. Researchers looked to determine the impact of intensive weight management programs on presenteeism and absenteeism in nearly 150 obese participants employed full-time. Participants were recruited from the University of Michigan Weight Management Program. This study is a multidisciplinary lifestyle program targeting a loss of 15% of body weight.  Absenteeism and presenteeism were assessed using the World Health Organization Health and Work Performance Questionnaire at baseline and 6 months.

The results were surprising in the study but they were not conclusive. after 6 months, the college-educated white-collar employees lost a significant amount of weight, but there was no significant change in absenteeism or presenteeism compared with baseline. Although there was not a significant change in absenteeism, there was a trend towards reduced absenteeism or increased presence of employees.

The bottom line: Participation in an intensive weight management program did not impact worker productivity. The findings appear to be reassuring to employers because the results lean toward reduced absenteeism or increased presence of employees in the workspace. If work associated weight loss programs increase employee presence, it should improve productivity. More research is needed, but these results are promising.


  1. [1]
    J. J. Iyengar et al., “Impact of a Structured Weight Management Program on Worker Productivity,” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, pp. 148–152, Feb. 2019 [Online]. Available:
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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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