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Poor Worker Health Costs Businesses Billions

May 24 - Posted at 2:01 PM Tagged: , , , , , , ,

According to a recently released by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, lost productivity due to workers’ poor health is costing the U.S. approximately $84 billion a year.


On average, 77% of workers either had one or more chronic conditions or had a higher-than-normal body mass index (BMI), according to the Gallup index, which surveyed 94,366 American adults working in 14 occupational categories. The respondents with chronic conditions or a high BMI reported missing work about one-third of a day more each month, on average, than those workers with a normal BMI and no chronic conditions. That lost time costs U.S. businesses from $160 million a year for agricultural workers to $24.2 billion a year for white collar professionals.


The index, conducted from Jan. 2 – Sept 10, 2012, asked respondents if they had ever had a health condition such as asthma, cancer, depression, diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or recurring physical pain in the neck, back, knee, or leg.


The index collected data from the respondents on their height and weight so researchers could calculate their BMI. Respondents were classified as “obese” if they had a BMI of 30 or higher, as “overweight” if they had a BMI of 25-29, or as “normal” if they had a BMI of 18.5-24.9.


The 14 occupational categories that researchers examined were: professionals (excluding physicians, nurses, and teachers), management, services, clerical or office, sales, school teaching, nursing, transportation, manufacturing or production, business ownership, installation or repair, construction or mining, physicians, and agriculture.

86% of transportation workers had higher than normal BMIs or at least one chronic condition- the highest among the 14 categories. They reported missing 0.41 more work days a month than their healthier counterparts.


“This amounts to an estimated $3.5 billion in absenteeism costs per year that would be recouped” if employees were not overweight or had not been diagnosed with a chronic condition, researchers wrote.


As employers increasingly engage in improving the health of their workers, including implementing and strengthening the effectiveness of wellness programs, there are substantial potential savings that remain on the table from getting more employees to work each day as their health improves over time.

Our payroll stuffer this month will focus on the important topic of Nutrition. It covers topics important to your employees such as:


Increasing Your Nutrition IQ

More and more people are learning to read the labels when grocery shopping, but so you know what all the terms mean? Learn how to decode a few of the more confusing food label phrases.


Three Surprising Superfoods

Learn about the many health benefits of mushrooms, quinoa, and pistachio nuts.


Surprising Fact about Mushrooms: Mushrooms as medicine have been used for centuries in Asian cultures. Today, maitake and shiitake mushrooms are being studied for potential cancer-fighting properties. Studies are being done to see if the shiitakes may also help boost the immune system and fight heart disease.


Never heard of quinoa? It is a grain with a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a nutty flavor when cooked. It is higher in protein than other grains and the protein is provides is a complete protein meaning it includes all nine essential amino acids just like animal protein.


Pistachios rank as one of the most popular nuts that contain high amounts of phytosterols. These are substances that are known to help lower cholesterol in your body.


Why Kids Overeat and How You Can Help Them Stop

Overweight and obese kids face serious health concerns. The extra weight puts kids and teens at risk for many health problems, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. By understanding why kids overeat, you can help your child get on the right path to a healthy weight.


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How to Weigh Obesity in Employment Decisions

February 08 - Posted at 3:01 PM Tagged: , ,

Imagine you are the Hiring Manager for a distribution warehouse and you are interviewing applicants for a materials handler position. The first candidate enters the room, standing at a height of 5’4”, weighing more than 500 pounds. You continue the interview and learn that he has high qualifications, but you can’t help  considering how his weight may affect his work performance.


You anticipate that his obesity might put him at a greater risk of developing serious illnesses that may lead to absenteeism. You also consider that accommodations may be required for him to use the fork lift and other machinery, and you worry he may pose a safety threat if he were unable to move quickly enough to evacuate in the event of an emergency.


Based on these considerations, you decide not to hire this candidate. Was this proper or did you put too much emphasis on his obesity and risk liability? This is the question many business employers have had to face in light of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Recent cases brought by the EEOC may shed light on whether severe obesity is a protectable disability, but the question still remains: when is obesity “severe” enough to constitute an ADA-protected disability?


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