Objective: To estimate the causal effect of obesity on job absenteeism and the associated lost productivity in the United States, both nationwide and by state. Methods: We conducted a retrospective pooled cross-sectional analysis using the 2001 to 2016 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and estimated two-part models of instrumental variables. Results: Obesity, relative to normal weight, raises job absenteeism due to injury or illness by 3.0 days per year (128%). Annual productivity loss due to obesity ranges from $271 to $542 (lower/upper bound) per employee with obesity, with national productivity losses ranging from $13.4 to $26.8 billion in 2016. Trends in state-level estimates mirror those at the national level, varying across states. Conclusions: Obesity significantly raises job absenteeism. Reductions in job absenteeism should be included when calculating the cost-effectiveness of interventions to prevent or reduce obesity among employed adults.
Job Absenteeism Costs of Obesity in the United States: National and State-Level Estimates