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Information About Estimations

  • The calculator relies on a combination of company-specific data provided by the user and obesity-specific data estimated from nationally representative datasets (see Source Data).
  • Default values from nationally representative datasets are provided for the optional inputs if the user does not have such information
  • The calculator reports obesity-attributable costs among employees, both medical (for those employees with health benefits) and the value of absenteeism. All costs are assumed to be borne by employers. In reality these costs can be passed on to employees through sharing of health insurance premiums and possibly adjustments to wages.
  • Disclaimer: All costs are reported in 2007 dollars using the Medical Care Inflation Index provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  All results generated from the tool are estimates. Actual results may be larger or smaller than those reported.

Source Data

Obesity Prevalence

National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)
Overweight and obesity prevalence by industry of employment were derived from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a nationally-representative survey of the non-institutionalized civilian population.195 The main objective of the NHIS is to monitor the health of the United States population through the collection and analysis of data on a broad range of health topics and demographics. The Person file and the Adult file, which included information on self-reported BMI, employment, industry of employment, and work days missed due to illness, were merged. The sample included non-pregnant, full-time employees ages 18 to 65 with available information on industry of employment (N=13,784). NHIS sampling weights were used to generate nationally representative estimates.

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
Overweight and obesity prevalence by state were derived from the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual survey on health behaviors and risk factors conducted at the state level.196  Information on BMI was calculated in the BRFSS from self-reported height and weight. The sample included non-pregnant, full-time employees ages 18 to 65 (N=180,144). BRFSS sampling weights were used to generate representative estimates for each state.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
Data from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were used to adjust self-reported weight categories for reporting error.197 NHANES is a unique survey that combines interviews and physical examinations. Weight categories based on measured BMI were generated for a sample of non-pregnant adults ages 18 to 65 (N=3,955). NHANES sampling weights were used to generate nationally representative estimates.

Hourly Wages and Benefits

Current Population Survey (CPS)
Data on wages and benefits were drawn from the March 2005 Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of the U.S. conducted by the Bureau of the Census.198 The CPS is the primary source of labor force characteristics of the U.S. population. The sample included full-time workers ages 18 to 65 and excluded those in the following industries: military, mining, and other services, except private households (N=64,504). Earnings for the sole or principal job from calendar year 2004 were scaled up to 2007 values using the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Cost Index, a 9.12% increase. CPS sampling weights were used to generate nationally representative estimates.

Medical Expenditures

Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)
Data were pooled from the 2001, 2002, and 2003 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) Consolidated Data Files, a nationally representative survey of the civilian non-institutionalized population that provides data on annual medical expenditures.199 The sample included non-pregnant adults ages 18 to 64 who work full time as defined by working greater than or equal to 35 hours per week (N= 27,927). Estimates were adjusted to be nationally representative using MEPS sampling weights for years 2001, 2002, and 2003. All expenditure data were inflated to 2007 dollars using the Medical Care Consumer Price Index.

Work Loss

National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)
The 2003 to 2005 NHIS Person and Adult files were pooled for the work loss analysis. The sample was restricted to those ages 18 to 64 who were employed full-time the entire year and were not pregnant (N=34,170).

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