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New Research Shows Obesity’s Impact on Business

With more than 70 millions adults living with obesity, the disease is taking a heavy toll on our health care system. But what about its economic impact? New research from The Buckeye Institute shines a light on how obesity is affecting Ohio’s labor force—and what it means for the state’s future.

One in three Ohioans has obesity. The disease can cause people to develop other health complications like diabetes and heart disease, and ultimately lead to increasing absence from work, fewer hours on the job, and lower productivity.

Buckeye’s new report took a deep dive into what this means for the state, and the results are alarming: obesity keeps more than 32,000 Ohioans unemployed, reducing state tax revenues by nearly $20 million while increasing Medicaid costs by hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

The economic impact for individuals can be devastating. According to the report, “Working-age adults not participating fully in the labor market will suffer economically as they forego short-term income, employment benefits, and lifetime earnings often exceeding $100,000.”

Buckeye says the problem is preventing Ohio from returning to its pre-pandemic labor participation rate and makes several recommendations to policymakers:

  • Expand access to obesity care: Access to education, counseling, medications, and surgery—according to nationally recognized, evidence-based standards—will improve care.
  • Eliminate outmoded licensing requirements. Regulations that make it harder to access mental and physical obesity health care, prevention, and treatments should be repealed or more suitably tailored.
  • Track performance. Various obesity treatments should be rigorously studied, and obesity data should be tracked across state agencies and programs and publicized.

You can read the full report here.