A new technical research study from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) supports previous evidence that obesity weighs heavily on the cost of Workers’ Compensation. The statistical analysis shows that claimants with a co-morbidity indicator pointing to obesity have an indemnity benefit duration that is more than five times the value of claimants who do not have this comorbidity indicator but are otherwise comparable. Inclusive of Permanent Partial indemnity payments, this multiple climbs to more than six.
While the effects of obesity on lost productivity, higher medical costs, longer claims duration and increased risk of disabilities are sobering, employers may be surprised to learn that many employees blame their jobs for weight gain. A recent study by Harris Interactive revealed that 44% of more than 5,700 surveyed workers across industries said their weight gain was due to their job.
Twenty-six percent of workers reported gaining over 10 pounds, and 14 percent gained over 20 pounds.
According to the survey certain occupations have a high incidence of workers reporting weight gain, often tied to sedentary or high-stress positions. Among the jobs that lead to weight gain are:
• Travel • Attorneys/judges
• Social workers • Teachers
• Administrative assistant. • Physicians
• Protective services (police, firefighters)
• Marketing/public relations professionals
• Information technology professionals
In reporting the study results, WSRK Mix 103.9 FM ran a story, Jobs That Make You Fat and asked “Is your desk an occupational hazard?” While some employers may shake their heads, there are important messages here. Genetics, diet and lifestyle clearly play a role in the weight issues of Americans, but declining workplace activity is a contributor and is perceived as a significant cause by employees. The work environment has changed and will continue to do so. In 1960, one out of two jobs had a high level of physical activity; today it is one out five.
In addition to wellness efforts, employers can benefit by focusing on ways to put physical activity back into the daily routine. Standing meetings, encouraging walking by having centralized printers, activity breaks and other actions that get employees up and moving.