Posted in: Health

Obesity Costs A Fortune For Employers, Employees, And Government


The obesity price tag is in soaring into the billions as more and more Americans are “living large,” and everyone is paying for it, according to the latest research.

Obesity afflicts about 35 percent of adult Americans and 17 percent of children according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. And the associated healthcare costs have increased to an estimated $190 billion annually because obesity increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.

Who picks up the tab for these additional costs? Who do you think? According to the Reuters news agency, a recent study indicated that “those extra medical costs are partly born by the non-obese, in the form of higher taxes to support Medicaid and higher health insurance premiums.” Medicaid is the taxpayer-funded program providing health services to low-income persons.

Apart from obesity-related medical bills, public- and private-sector employers have been forced to widen doors, expand and strengthen seats, and to install new toilets and take other measures to accommodate grossly overweight individuals. All of these costs are eventually passed to the taxpayer and/or consumer.

Reuters explains that “businesses, governments, and individuals are only now coming to grips with the costs of those extra pounds, many of which are even greater than believed only a few years ago. The additional medical spending due to obesity is double previous estimates and exceeds even those of smoking, a new study shows.”

Obese persons also are said to take more sick days rate than other workers. In addition to absenteeism, there is also an issue in the workplace that one economist calls “presenteeism.” This is the lower productivity among obese workers as compared to their non-obese counterparts.

Unlike smokers who tend to die younger and therefore eventually give the healthcare system a break (if we can call it that), obese person tend to have about the same life expectancy as others: “Beta blockers for heart disease, diabetes drugs, and other treatments are keeping the obese alive longer, with the result that they incur astronomically high medical expenses in old age just like their slimmer peers.”

Obesity threatens our country’s fiscal and physical health. What do you think is the best way to address America’s obesity epidemic? Do you think obese persons are victims of discrimination?

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25 Responses to “Obesity Costs A Fortune For Employers, Employees, And Government”

  1. Ruby Williams

    I believe that Obesity is caused by economic strains in most cases. To feed a family on a healthy diet and a budget is very hard. We are doing that and our grocery bill went up by about 75 dollars. With the prices being lower on the fattier foods people in most cases have to purchase those foods to make sure their entire family eats.

  2. Velvet Michael

    My question is where will it stop? First you start with the smokers then the obese people. After that are we going to start on the people that have a genetic predispostion to diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac disease, cancer? Oh and lets not forget the children who are born with genetic birth defects! So if we start this now, where will it end?

  3. DeDe Stoner

    A part of me believes this should be the case, just like with car insurance. If you get tickets or cause accidents, you pay a higher premium because of the choices you made. I very rarely go to the Dr & think maybe the premium being based upon usage might be a good option. I agree cheaper foods are the fatty high processed foods but you can eat these foods in moderation & prevent weight gain/obesity. I don't necessarily agree with having to pay a higher premium to pay for bad choices others make.

  4. Jeffrey Mitchell

    Many corporations are charging higher premiums to their employees for having preventable health risks, like smoking, obesity, etc… And giving bonuses to those with healthy habits.

  5. Leanne Salls

    Some of us are not overweight because of choices we made. Sometimes it is a legitimate medical issue that causes a person to gain a lot of weight and be almost totally unable to change it.

    A lot of weight gain is because of our society. Cheap foods are bad for you, and we don't necessarily know what is good or bad for us. We are taught things about food that are untrue, or are only partially true. A piece of bread is better for you than ice cream right? Maybe. It depends on portion sizes, and the contents of each. Our kids need to be taking classes on a regular basis about this stuff, because they parents don't know either.

  6. Lori Burton

    Pay careful attention to this folks. Be watchful of the path we are on. I know obesity is a huge problem, there is no denying that, but are we going to start discriminating?

  7. Lori Burton

    Pay careful attention to this folks. Be watchful of the path we are on. I know obesity is a huge problem, there is no denying that, but are we going to start discriminating?

  8. Cyn Balunas

    well I think it depends on the person, what do they have hiding in their closet to continue down a path of destruction?, for me its a problem with a disease that I may have been born with (MS) that prevents me to walk and exercize, and after having a baby 3 years ago I have only been able to lose 100 lbs after gaining 200 and with that being said am disabled and cannot posibly afford Healthy food for my family, HEALTHY FOOD IS TOO DARN EXPENSIVE! so noone should be complaining about it…..AMERICA, but thankyou to all the taxpayers for your help :)

  9. Jennifer Branscum

    As a smoker I ffeel I should be charged more for health and life insurance it was my choice to smoke, but being overweight is not a life choice those people who think obese people are lazy, always overeat, and eat only junk food need a reality check. there are many factors to obesity and many of them are undiagnosed medical conditions or side affects of medications for long term medical conditions such as depression, bi-polar disorder and diabetes and those are things people don't choose.

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