Unhealthy workers cost employers £21 billion

Full-time workers who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health conditions miss an estimated 103 million additional days of work each year compared with healthy workers -- resulting in an estimated cost of more than £21 billion in lost productivity annually.

These findings are based on data from the first eight months of Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracking. collected between Jan. 2 and Aug. 31, 2011. Gallup surveyed 8866 residents- 3908 of which are full-time employees, meaning they say they work at least 30 hours per week.

Chronic health conditions in this analysis include being overweight or obese; having ever been diagnosed with a heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, asthma, or depression; and recurring physical pain in the neck or back or knee or leg in the last 12 months.

Full-time workers who are a normal weight and do not suffer from chronic health conditions make up 20.2% of the workforce and average 4 sick days a year. The average number of sick days doubles among those who are overweight or obese and do not have additional chronic health conditions. Sick days increase further for workers who are overweight or obese and have one to two additional chronic health conditions. Workers who are an above-normal weight and have three or more chronic health conditions report a significantly higher average of 60 sick days a year.

The links between obesity and other chronic health conditions are well known, including diabetes, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart attack. The results of this new analysis expand on these known links to reveal the combined effects of being overweight or obese and having additional chronic conditions on absenteeism at work.

Considering that many adults suffer from several chronic health issues, employers face a challenge in reducing lost productivity as a result of workers' mostly preventable health issues.

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Unhealthy workers cost employers £21 billion
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