A longitudinal exploration of the relationship between obesity, and long term health condition with presenteeism in Australian workplaces, 2006-2018

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Date: Aug. 26, 2020
From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 15, Issue 8)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Report
Length: 4,888 words
Lexile Measure: 1370L

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Background Obesity and long term health condition (LTHC) are major public health concerns that have an impact on productivity losses at work. Little is known about the longitudinal association between obesity and LTHC with impaired productivity. Objective This study aims to explore the longitudinal association between obesity and LTHC with presenteeism or working while sick. Design Longitudinal research design Setting Australian workplaces Methods This study pooled individual-level data of 111,086 employees collected in wave 6 through wave 18 from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The study used a Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) model with logistic link function to estimate the association. Results The findings suggest that overweight (Odds Ratios [OR]: 1.09, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.05-1.14), obesity (OR: 1.38, 95% CI: 1.31-1.45), and LTHC (OR: 3.03, 95% CI: 2.90-3.16) are significantly positively associated with presenteeism. Conclusions The longitudinal association between obesity and LTHC with presenteeism among Australian employees implies that interventions to improve workers' health and well-being will reduce the risk of presenteeism at work.

Author(s): Syed Afroz Keramat 1,2,3,*, Khorshed Alam 2,3, Jeff Gow 2,4, Stuart J. H. Biddle 3


The global obesity prevalence has nearly tripled since 1975. In 2016, 13% (over 650 million) of adults aged 18 years and over were obese, worldwide [1]. In 2017-18, nearly 2 in 3 (67%, 12.5 million) Australian adults were either overweight or obese, and 1 in 3 adults was obese [2]. The rising prevalence of overweight and obesity is a serious public health concern in Australia as this trend has high health and financial costs to the economy [3]. In 2015, 8.4% of the disease burden was attributable to overweight and obesity in Australia [2]. Overweight and obesity cost AUD 8.6 billion to the Australian economy in 2011-12 [4].

Excessive weight in workers caused direct (e.g. patient care and medical supplies) and indirect (e.g. lost productivity) cost burdens to employers. The indirect costs of obesity can be grouped into six categories [5] and both absenteeism and presenteeism have contributed highly to indirect costs. Presenteeism is the second main component of measuring workplace productivity and is defined as impaired functioning while being present at work due to the presence of mental or physical health complications [6]. Presenteeism is difficult to identify and measure compared with absenteeism [7]. However, there is evidence that the annual cost of presenteeism is higher than that of absenteeism in the US economy [8]. Like the US, productivity loss through presenteeism is a persistent and ongoing problem in the Australian economy. A landmark study revealed that the estimated cost of presenteeism was AUD 34.1 billion in 2010 and will cost AUD 35.8 billion in 2050 to the Australian economy [7].

It is assumed that obesity negatively impacts workers' performance as obese people often suffer from comorbidities, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders. The existing empirical evidence shows that obesity is positively associated with presenteeism [9-13]. Findings from two recent studies conducted in Canada and Belgium suggests that obesity is positively...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A633597910