Obesity Cost Calculator™

Quantifying the financial impact of obesity can inform and improve employee wellness programs

Obesity is a known and growing problem worldwide. In the United States, estimates of the financial impact of obesity amount to $150 billion a year in medical expenses. For employers, it is estimated that the associated costs top $73 billion a year. But for many companies, expenses attributable to obesity are difficult to estimate.

Obesity is usually accompanied by a wide array of health complications that require costly treatments or therapies. Because wellness programs come with their own associated costs, companies need a tool that translates data into decision-driving information. Forward-thinking organizations continue to look for ways to (1) quantify the magnitude of the obesity challenge and (2) assess the options and benefits of providing interventions and incentives to better manage the health of employees.

Our researchers sought to better understand the complex relationship among weight, obesity comorbid conditions, medical expenditures, and work loss. RTI developed the Obesity Cost Calculator™ to help estimate the medical cost and work loss attributable to obesity. An employer can use the tool to estimate the costs of obesity based on user-provided characteristics of the company. The results include estimated medical expenditures and the dollar value of increased absenteeism resulting from obesity.

Organizations benefit from using the Obesity Cost Calculator™ by understanding where challenges lie within the organization—both from a cost and wellness perspective—which allows them to tailor efforts, such as incorporating or modifying wellness programs and early intervention strategies, to improve the health of their employees.