Researchers say obesity, diabetes interfere with productivity
In a survey of working adults with or at risk for diabetes, participants answered questions about lost work time, reduced on-the-job effectiveness, and impairment in daily activities. The analysis, published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, found that being obese and having diabetes predicted productivity problems. Specifically, obese individuals with type 2 diabetes lost 11 percent to 15 percent of work time -- about 5.9 hours per week -- because of health problems. In comparison, normal-weight participants at low risk for diabetes reported losing only 9 percent of work time -- about 3.6 hours per week -- due to health problems.
Kathleen Fox, coauthor of the study and president of Strategic Healthcare Solutions LLC, said obese workers with type 2 diabetes also experienced the most problems off the job, reporting impairment during 20 percent to 34 percent of their daily activities, such as shopping, exercising and child care.
"From an employer's perspective, this study provides evidence that workplace wellness programs that include weight loss and weight management would be beneficial for obese employees with or at risk for diabetes," Fox said.
Anne Wolf, an instructor at the University of Virginia's School of Medicine and an expert in researching the economic impact of obesity, agreed with Fox's conclusion.
"Employers who spend money in a lifestyle intervention will find their investment returned to them in the form of increased productivity and reduced absenteeism," she said.
June 29, 2009
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