New study finds obese employees more costly to companies than smokers

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A recent Mayo Clinic study found obesity is outweighing smoking in employer health care costs. "I think this study is really going to surprise a lot of people that it really is truly obesity that's raising the health care cost today," says Mayo Clinic Health System registered dietitian Diane Dressel.

A seven year study by mayo clinic tracked the health care costs for 30,000 current and retired employees. They found health care costs went up $1,400 more for obese employees compared to their non-obese colleagues. Obese employees even cost $600 more than smokers.

"When the BMI's go higher that can go to 5 or 6 thousand dollar range." Dressel says the shear numbers of obese people makes this a growing problem for companies. "The number of people that are now clinically obese is basically 33% and there's another 34% that are overweight. So it's the pure numbers in general."

Chris Goettig has found success working with companies to develop an individual wellness plan to combat the weight issue. “i think a lot companies are sticking with more participation based results at least just to start with to get the employees along with spouses exposure to wellness."

He says each company is different but most hold off on incentive or result type programs based on biometric screenings and health assessments.

"We all know what we should be doing but a lot of us need continually support to get to there too get to our ultimate goal. So i think that's where employers are going to see the most impact. Not only just implementing education or awareness but having some type of program or system set up so their employees have that continually support," says Goettig.

For companies interested in starting a program we have a phone number for the weight management services at Mayo Clinic Health System. Call 715-838-5279 for more information and to get started.

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