Remember all that research about how getting your employees to shed pounds would help you shed costs, too? Well, make sure you’ve read all the research.
Before you go dumping tons of money into a company-wide weight-loss initiative in the hopes of realizing healthcare savings down the line, be careful. There’s some new research that contradicts many of the things that you’ve been told about obesity.
For men near their prime working ages — 28 to 41 — there is no difference between obese men and thin men in terms of medical costs. That’s according to findings in the NBER Reporter: Research Summary 2008 No. 3. (However, obese women’s healthcare costs for this age group are significantly higher.)
Does that mean you really shouldn’t care too much your employees’ health? Absolutely not. These figures could be interpreted and skewed in many ways. For example, it’s possible that the associated costs of obesity for this demographic will show up later. Plus, obese people have been found to have higher rates of Type II diabetes, heart disease and even cancer in several studies.
The research in NBER Reporter should in no way discourage employers from getting employees to live more healthy lives. Rather, it should be taken as a different — and much needed — perspective on weight-loss programs. For instance, more findings like these can help employers realize weight-loss programs may not lead directly to dramatic healthcare savings.