Author(s): Colombi AM, Wood GC
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Abstract BACKGROUND: In forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the American Heart Association calls for preventive strategies with particular attention to obesity. The association between obesity and CVD, including coronary artery disease (CAD) and diabetes, is well established. The rising prevalence of obesity in the workforce may have additional implications for employers and employees besides the demonstrated effects on absenteeism and workers' compensation. OBJECTIVE: This study was undertaken to determine the impact of population obesity on care utilization and cost of cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, CAD, and cerebrovascular disease (or stroke) in a large US population of employees engaged in a major corporate wellness program. STUDY SAMPLE: Using data from a single large industrial employer across 29 geographically distinct worksites in the United States, 179,708 episodes of care from 2004 to 2007 for 10,853 employees were included. METHODS: The population-based economic impact of obesity was calculated on the basis of the frequency of episodes of care per 1000 employees and on the amount eligible for payment per episode of care in US dollars. Data were obtained from a wellness program databases, episode of illness inventories, and pharmacy and medical claims. High and low prevalence rates of obesity, by obesity quartile, were used to create linear mixed models to examine associations with disease outcomes, while controlling for correlation within each worksite. RESULTS: Worksites with a high rate of obesity (ie, in the fourth quartile) had 348.4 more episodes of care of any kind per 1000 employees (P <.001), 38.6 more hypertension episodes of care per 1000 employees (P <.001), and 2.5 more cerebrovascular disease episodes of care per 1000 employees (P = .017) compared with worksites in the lower 3 quartiles. A worksite in the fourth obesity rate quartile had $223 greater cost per any kind of episode (P <.001), $169 greater cost per hypertension episode (P = .003), and $1620 more per CAD episode (P = .005) compared with worksites in the lower 3 quartiles. The overall economic impact per 1000 employees was calculated by combining episode frequency and eligible amount for payment per episode. For sites in the lower 3 quartiles of obesity, the eligible amount per 1000 employees for any kind of care was $4.01 million. However, for sites in the highest obesity quartile, the eligible amount for payment per 1000 employees was $5.26 million. This translates into $1250 greater cost per employee. Similar calculations were used to evaluate the effect of obesity on the amount eligible for payment per employee for hypertension, CAD, and cerebrovascular disease episodes, with an estimated $69, $89, and $8 greater cost, respectively, per employee. CONCLUSION: Worksites with greater obesity prevalence rates were associated with numerically more frequent and more expensive episodes of care than worksites with low obesity prevalence.
This article was published in Am Health Drug Benefits
and referenced in Journal of Nutritional Disorders & Therapy