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Obesity, Chronic Disease Costs US Employers $153 Billion

According to the Gallup Poll, employees who are obese or have chronic conditions cost US employers $153 billion in lost productivity annually. This number is based on lost productivity due to absenteeism, the likelihood of which increases among those who are obese or suffering from a chronic disease. The $153 billion would increase if the analysis included “presenteeism,” which is when employees go to work but are less productive in their jobs because of poor health.

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“It goes to show the urgent need for primary prevention in the workplace, and counteracting one of the main causes of obesity and chronic disease, which is physical inactivity,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s President and CEO. “Employer involvement in employee wellness is essential—not only to the current generation of workers, but to future generations.”

Research shows that employee wellness programs are associated with lower rates of absenteeism, reduced employee health care expenses, and fewer disability and worker compensation claims. Considering that most working Americans spend one-half of their waking hours at work, it makes the workplace a useful and practical place for wellness-related initiatives that will benefit both the employee and employer.[1]

Moore says that the takeaway from this data is that America needs easier access to fitness facilities, and more incentives to engage in regular exercise. “It’s not just about getting more gym memberships—it’s about creating a community in which exercise and nutrition are paramount features of our health care system, and that health clubs are seen as invaluable community resources for wellness,” said Moore. Moore encourages all health club operators to ask their state and federal lawmakers to implement policies that create opportunities for exercise.

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