CDC's Obesity Cost Calculator

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual health care cost of obesity in the United States was estimated to be as high as $147 billion a year in 2008. In addition, the annual medical burden of obesity increased to 9.1 percent in 2006 compared to 6.5 percent in 1998.  The CDC goes on to estimate medical expenses for obese employees are approximately 42 percent higher than for a person with a healthy weight.

Workplace obesity prevention programs can be an effective way for employers to reduce obesity and lower their health care costs, lower absenteeism and increase employee productivity.  CDC's LEAN Works! is a free web-based resource that offers interactive tools and evidence-based resources to design effective worksite obesity prevention and control programs.  As part of their "LEAN Works!" program, CDC developed a helpful tool for employers to estimate obesity-related costs and compare the costs and benefits of user-defined interventions targeted at reducing this potentially deadly disease.

The Obesity Cost Calculator estimates the costs of obesity based on characteristics of your company. These characteristics include costs for medical expenditures and the dollar value of increased absenteeism resulting from obesity. Costs are estimated separately based on body mass index (BMI). 

The calculator also provides a module to assess the expected savings of interventions to reduce obesity, potential reductions in medical costs and work loss resulting from interventions, and the number of years before a break-even period is reached.

Each is estimated under several user-driven scenarios concerning the expected costs and savings resulting from the intervention.

Before you begin using the cost calculator, you will need to gather specific information about your company, including average hourly wages, percentage of employees receiving health benefits and the BMIs of your employees.  If you do not have some of this data for your company, the Obesity Cost Calculator will provide default values from nationally representative data sets to calculate the cost estimates.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  CDC’s LEAN Works! is designed to encourage investments in effective work-site wellness programs, and the obesity calculator helps employers estimate the cost of obesity to their businesses. CDC’s LEAN Works! should not be used to promote discriminatory practices such as considering weight in hiring or other personnel decisions.