Direct and Indirect Cost of Obesity Among the Privately Insured in the United States: A Focus on the Impact by Type of Industry

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 11

A study team including Managing Principal Mei Sheng Duh, Principal François Laliberté, Manager Maral DerSarkissian, and Associate Dominique Lejeune has published its evaluation of obesity-related costs among privately insured employees, by industry. The study demonstrated that obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) over 30 kg/m2, was associated across all industries with higher health care costs, and could thus be used as a cost predictor.

The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, considered direct health care costs related to obesity, as well as indirect costs such as absenteeism, presenteeism (working at reduced capacity), disability, and worker’s compensation. Data indicated that employees with obesity across all industries were more likely to be among the 20% of employees incurring the highest health care costs. The study authors concluded that, based on this study, employers would do well to consider evidence-based interventions beyond the standard wellness programs to prevent and manage obesity and its related financial burden.

The study, which was funded by Novo Nordisk Inc., was an Editor’s Pick in the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s (ACOEM) “Science in the News” newsletter. 

Read the article


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