Binge-Eating Hospital Employees Cost Big Bucks

John Commins, June 11, 2012

While there is not a definitive link showing that healthcare workers are more susceptible to overweight and obesity than other workers, some studies suggest that is the case.

Empirically it resonates because long hours, irregular work schedules, and on-the-job stress, which are virtually written into the job descriptions of many healthcare workers, have been identified as drivers of overweight and obesity.

Those stresses and their cumulative effect on employee productivity and healthcare costs is another reason why the wellness movement has grown tremendously in the healthcare sector.

When employees are screened for wellness measures such as blood sugar, body mass index, and hypertension, experts say employers should also include confidential questions about binge eating, which may be more prevalent than previously thought, evidence suggests.

A study from a Johnson & Johnson affiliate Wellness & Prevention, Inc., reviewed health risk assessment responses from 46,818 employees and estimates that a company with 1,000 employees loses nearly $108,000 each year because of productivity losses associated with binge eating. Researchers at W&P said 9.4% of the employees in the survey self-reported as binge eaters, making it the third-highest health risk affecting productivity behind depression and stress. 

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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