"Obesity has a devastating impact on the health of employees and, by extension, on their employers," said Vince Kerr, a physician and director of health care management at Ford Motor Company, one of the founding members of the Institute.
"Organizations lose more than $12 billion per year due to higher health care utilization rates, lowered productivity, increased absenteeism, elevated health and disability insurance premiums and other consequences associated with obesity and weight-related conditions."
The Institute on the Costs and Health Effects of Obesity is an initiative of The Washington Business Group on Health (WBGH). Members of this group include Coca Cola, Mastercard, Johnson & Johnson, Xerox Corporation, Levi Strauss, Kellogg's, AOL Time Warner and Procter & Gamble.
The Institute on the Costs and Health Effects of Obesity is the first of its kind and is structured specifically for a corporate audience. The institute will serve as a reliable resource for large employers on the health and cost repercussions of obesity and related chronic conditions. Additionally, the group will identify effective strategies to decrease the incidence of obesity among US workers and will develop and disseminate clear messages that stress obesity's preventable nature as well as its role in physical and mental health.
"Research has shown that the overall impact of obesity on health and costs outweighs even that of smoking," said Helen Darling, president of WBGH.
"As a result, no company in America can afford to ignore the problem of obese and overweight employees. High obesity rates among children, changing workforce demographics and the upward trajectory of health care costs mean employers' obesity-related direct medical costs and indirect costs of lost productivity will continue to escalate unless we take concerted action to support workers' efforts to reduce obesity and choose healthier lifestyles."
The institute has released an Employer Toolkit report on weight management that offers ways to support employees' desires to have healthier lifestyles.
Hopefully, US bicycle advocacy groups will be sending information packs on cycling...