New Year’s Resolution: A Weighty Issue

People often include “losing weight” or “getting in better shape” in a list of New Year’s resolutions.  Companies may want to encourage their employees to achieve these goals, as research confirms “that work-related injuries are far more costly if an injured worker is obese.  In fact, a claim with an obese diagnosis can be 30 times to 60 times more expensive than a comparable claim incurred by a non-obese person.”  In addition, “there is a greater risk that injuries will create permanent disabilities if the injured worker is obese.”

While few would put themselves into the “obese” category, for purposes of this study a person with a body mass index ≥ 30 were defined as obese.  In this country, obesity is growing at an alarming rate.  In 1990, 10 states had a prevalence of obesity less than 10%, and no states had a prevalence ≥ 15%.  By 1999, no state had a prevalence less than 10%, 18 states had a prevalence between 20%-24%, and no state had a prevalence ≥ 25%.  In 2009, only Colorado and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.  33 states had a prevalence ≥ 25%, nine of which were ≥ 30%. 

Overweight workers also have a higher incidence of health problems.  The Centers for Disease Control “reports that being overweight or obese appears to increase the risk of incurring one or more diseases and adverse health conditions.”  Their list includes:

· Hypertension (high blood pressure)

· Dyslipidemia (high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)

· Type 2 diabetes

· Coronary heart disease

· Stroke

· Osteoarthritis (degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)

· Gallbladder disease

· Sleep apnea and respiratory problems

· Some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon)

From www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2010/12/31/116080.htm and from www.ncci.com/documents/obesity_research_brief.pdf.