A white heart puzzle with an stethoscope and hundred dollar bills.The tille is "Financial Impact of Obesity"

The Financial Impact of Obesity

Being obese comes with an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease and significant increases in early mortality. What’s less known is the financial impact of obesity. From additional health bills, lost productivity at work and reduced employment opportunities due to discrimination, obesity can hit your pocket book as hard as it could your overall health.

This means that if you are obese, your physical condition can end up costing you your health as well as your wealth!

Thankfully, obesity is a curable disease.  With a medically supervised weight loss program, you can successfully reduce your weight over time. Once a healthy weight is achieved, you can begin a long-term weight maintenance program to remain at that healthy weight and avoid the health risks and financial costs of being obese.

Obesity’s effect on health costs

It is well documented that when a person is obese, they have an increased chance of developing certain cancers or cardiovascular diseases.  These conditions are treated with expensive drugs such as statins and insulin that can break the budget of the average American.  In fact, if you are obese, a peer-reviewed publication in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy estimates that you will pay $2,500 more per year than the average American for medical and hospital expenses. Not only is this an avoidable $200 per month for an individual, on aggregate this translates to an extra $260 billion a year in health costs.  Such an enormous number drives up health insurance premiums for everyone and increases the amount of taxpayer money that gets fed into programs like state Medicaid or federal Medicare. To put this number in perspective, it is higher than overall healthcare costs related to tobacco use and alcohol abuse.   

Obesity’s effect on productivity

Companies and government agencies are increasingly making costly accommodations to allow obese workers to perform at acceptable levels in the office and in the field.  Depending on the role, however, this may be difficult to achieve. 

“[Obese people] pay $2,500 more per year than the average American for medical and hospital expenses.”

In an office environment, simply removing armrests and investing in heavier-duty chairs may be enough to give obese employees a comfortable work environment.  However, in the US military where an estimated 16% of service personnel are obese, accommodations in the field are difficult and highly impractical. Even with accommodations in place, studies and statistics show that obese workers perform at lower levels on average across a variety of industries than their non-obese peers.  This may be due to increased absenteeism due to sick days and the inability to perform certain physical tasks.  

In one peer-reviewed study of over 50,000 employees across multiple industries, obese employees had the biggest gap in productivity in the construction, arts and hospitality industries. However, in nearly every other industry, there also existed a productivity gap in which the obese underperformed.

Discrimination against obese people

One factor that cannot be understated is the discrimination against obese and overweight individuals that still exists in American society despite the prevalence of the condition. When it comes to the labor market, this discrimination may exist even in jobs where there is little difference in productivity between obese workers and their non-obese colleagues.  This means even if you are obese and highly qualified for a position there is an increased chance that a hiring manager may overlook your application simply due to your being severely overweight.

The discrimination factor plays a role in the inequality of opportunities facing obese people in the US.  As an obese person you are statistically more likely to be unemployed, earn less than peers of your age and gender and are more likely to be passed over for promotion. Being obese can compound other factors such as lack of education that already place people at a disadvantage in the labor market.  

There is a solution

Obesity is a curable disease. If you are obese, there is no need to suffer financially from your condition in the long term.  Medically supervised weight loss can successfully reverse obesity and bring you to a healthy weight that you can sustain.  Once you are a healthy weight, you are far less likely to face the financial and health challenges of being obese including:

  • Increased sick days and time off from work
  • Employer discrimination
  • Higher medical bills
  • Lower productivity at work
  • An increased chance of early death

The good news is that the result of medically supervised weight loss can be a healthy budget as well as a healthy weight.

This is because the cost of a medically supervised weight loss program is less than the ongoing costs of being obese.  In fact, since meal replacement is a component of the program, you are likely to spend less money on food each month while you are on the program.  

Dr. Amir’s Weight Loss and Metabolism Center

At Dr. Amir’s Weight Loss and Metabolism Center, we use a number of lifestyle interventions to help patients lose weight and keep it off. However, even those who understand the basic concept of “calories in and calories out” can struggle with the practical issues of lifestyle and diet.  Therefore, we work with people of all ages using clinically proven and medically supervised lifestyle interventions, meal replacement and sometimes even medication to reduce weight and keep it off in the long term.  Our goal is always healthy and sustainable weight loss.  If you, or someone you love struggles with obesity or with maintaining a healthy weight, reach out to us today for an initial consultation by clicking here.  

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