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Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2012 Sep 1;10(5):309-17. doi: 10.2165/11632770-000000000-00000.

Lifetime productivity losses associated with obesity status in early adulthood: a population-based study of Swedish men.

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1
Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. kristian.neovius@ki.se

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for sick leave, disability pension and premature death. Obesity is therefore presumably related to increased productivity losses.

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this study was to estimate the lifetime productivity losses to society associated with obesity status.

METHODS:

This study was based on a 38-year follow-up of a nationwide cohort of 45 920 Swedish men performing mandatory military conscription tests at age 18.7 ± 0.5 years. Body mass index (BMI) based on measured height and weight at the time of military conscription tests was used to define underweight (<18.5 kg/m(2)), normal weight (18.5-24.9 kg/m(2)), overweight (25.0-29.9 kg/m(2)) and obesity (≥30.0 kg/m(2)). Data on sick leave, disability pension and premature death were retrieved from national registers. The calculations were adjusted for socioeconomic index, smoking and muscular strength.

RESULTS:

Using the human capital approach, the lifetime productivity losses were calculated as 55.6 (95% CI 50.7, 62.0) × €1000 and 55.6 (95% CI 50.9, 61.4) × €1000 for underweight and normal weight, respectively, and 72.6 (95% CI 66.3, 80.7) × €1000 and 95.4 (95% CI 89.0, 102.9) × €1000 for overweight and obesity, respectively. If using the friction cost method instead, the estimated productivity losses were reduced by about 80%.

CONCLUSION:

Obesity is associated with almost twice as high productivity losses to society as for normal weight over a lifetime. These costs are important to include in health economic analyses of obesity intervention programmes in order to ensure an effective allocation of resources from a societal perspective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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