Direct, Absenteeism, and Disability Cost Burden of Obesity Among Privately Insured Employees: A Comparison of Healthcare Industry Versus Other Major Industries in the United States

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2020


To compare obesity-related costs of employees of the healthcare industry versus other major US industries.


Employees with obesity versus without were identified using the Optum Health Reporting and Insights employer claims database (January, 2010 to March, 2017). Employees working in healthcare with obesity were compared with employees of other industries with obesity for absenteeism/disability and direct cost differences. Multivariate models estimated the association between industries and high costs compared with the healthcare industry.


Obesity-related absenteeism/disability and direct costs were higher in several US industries compared with the healthcare industry (adjusted cost differences of $-1220 to $5630). Employees of the government/education/religious services industry (GERS) with obesity (BMI of 30 or greater) had significantly higher odds of direct costs at the 80th percentile and above (odds ratio vs healthcare industry = 2.20; P < 0.05).


Relative to the healthcare industry, employees of other industries, especially GERS, incurred higher obesity-related costs.

View abstract


Ramasamy A, Laliberté F, Aktavoukian SA, Lejeune D, DerSarkissian M, Cavanaugh C, Smolarz BG, Ganguly R, Duh MS