Golden Staters Costing Employers, State $21.7 Billion a Year For Bad Lifestyles

April 7,2005 ( - Despite a reputation for being tanned and healthy, Californians are costing their employers $21.7 billion a year in medical bills and lost productivity due to being overweight and inactive.

The Golden State – in all its sun and surfing glory – has what a recent study calls “one of the fastest rates of increase in adult obesity of any state in the nation.” However, there are indications that this rate is slowing.

The $21.7 billion price tag is comprised of direct and indirect medical care ($10.2 billion), workers’ compensation ($338 million,)and lost productivity ($11.2 billion) The annual costs of physical inactivity were estimated at $13.3 billion, obesity at $6.4 billion, and being overweight at $2 billion.

The majority of these costs were shouldered by public and private employers in the form of health insurance and lost productivity, according to the study. These costs could increase to $28 billion in 2005 if no changes are made, the study warned.

The study states that 53% of Californians over 25 are overweight; 17% are obese, according to the report. These figures are even higher for Hispanics, blacks and adults with less than a high school education, with rates above 60% for these groups, the study, which was prepared for the California Department of Health Services, found.

Change would not be impossible, however. The study estimated that a 5% improvement in the rates of physical activity and healthy weight over five years could possibly save more than $6 billion; a 10% improvement could save nearly $13 billion, according to the report.

More information about the study is at here .