The rise in the US’s population that is considered obese has sky rocketed since 1991, and it does not look to be slowing down anytime soon. Obesity has a human side to it, affecting individuals and families, but it also has a large effect on business as well. Obesity has numerous costs associated with it, health care, time management, and work space accommodation. Many employers may now start to rethink candidate choices with weight being a factor. However incorrect this may be it is a situation that is working its way into employers’ decisions.
If an employer is faced with two equally qualified candidates it is becoming more likely that they would choose a candidate who does not have weight problems over one who does. Psychology would tell you this choice would be made because we tend to choose what is more attractive but evidence is pointing, more and more, towards the fact that this is also a choice made with business implications in mind.
A look at the situation
Statistics will show that those who are obese will have a higher rate of health problems. Chronic health risks in obese people are as much as 67% higher than those who are considered obese. This can correlate to higher amounts of health costs. Obese individuals’ average health costs some 36% higher than an average weight individual. All of these statistics are showing a great correlation to lost time and productivity for employers, not to mention a large monetary factor when looking at health care costs. With budgets, time management, and a need for more efficient work places in this ever competitive business environment employers are looking for ways to save money and to grow profits. Considering the least costly manner of employing workers is a huge part of these economic times. The cost of obesity is now a factor in employment.
A look at the numbers
Obesity is a very real health problem; it is also becoming a unique issue for businesses and employment. Obese/overweight employees are estimated to miss 450 million additional days of work a year. This translates to a cost of around $153 billion in productivity- according to Gallup. Looking at this on an individual basis, like the situation mentioned above, when an employer is considering candidates who are average weight versus ones who are overweight they must consider that obese/overweight employees will miss an extra 20 days a year of work due to chronic health issues. This will also cost a company around $6,302 in productivity on an individual basis. More of these statistics can be found at businessinsider.com
Obesity not only represents a chronic health issue in the US but it also represents an economic issue. Health costs due to obesity related diseases and health issues represent 43% of US businesses expenditures each year. With a third of those employed in the US considered obese, businesses now have to consider the implications of hiring obese candidates. It may not seem correct, or even discriminatory, to turn down a candidate due to a factor of that person’s health and the cost that could be involved. But looking at the statistics it is clear that there is a need to address this problem head on. For the good of the health of the US as well as the economic issues related to obesity.