You may not consider childhood obesity to be an issue that affects your company, but it may have a larger impact than you think. Over 30 percent of American children today are classified as overweight or obese. You likely have many employees with children, and obesity among that dependent group could be costing your company a lot of money.
Increased Healthcare Costs
If your health plan includes coverage for employee dependents, many of those dependents are probably children and adolescents. For those dependents who are overweight or obese, their health care costs are likely much higher than children at a healthy weight. Obese children tend to have a much higher rate of medical conditions and diseases, including bone and joint pain, depression, hypertension, diabetes, abdominal symptoms, asthma and headaches. Not only are these conditions increasing the cost of your health plan now, but children that remain obese will continue to suffer health problems in the future—which will only further increase the cost of your health plan.
Lower Employee Productivity
Research shows that obese children miss significantly more school than non-obese children, due to illnesses, doctor appointments, social challenges and other factors. Employees with sick children are often late for work, need to leave early or are absent completely to care for their child. Also, parents with sick children at home experience more work interruptions and are less focused on performing their job duties.
Workforce of the Future
Joining the fight against childhood obesity is truly in every employer’s best interest, as these same children will make up the work force of the future. Research indicates that obese children are much more likely to be obese as an adult, and will likely continue to experience costly medical problems. These problems will only get more severe into adulthood, and the financial burden for employers with obese employees will grow.
What can you do?
Addressing childhood obesity within your own company can be a very strategic, cost-saving decision. If you have a wellness plan, be sure that employee dependents are included in the initiatives. Offer incentives for children who participate in healthy activities, and consider sponsoring healthy events for the whole family or just for children of your employees. Also, work to educate your employees about the health and financial risks of childhood obesity and provide them information to help them encourage healthy habits at home. Associated Underwriters Insurance would be happy to provide you with additional educational material on childhood obesity. Contact us today!