Background: The prevalence of obesity has tripled over the last 40 years, which represents a growing public health concern. Other than exerting a major health impact, the economic consequences of obesity are also significant. The cost of obesity in Australia in 2010 was estimated to be close to AUD $57 billion, including both direct and indirect costs. Absenteeism and presenteeism result in reduced or loss of work productivity, which significantly impacts the economy. The present study sought to estimate the loss of productivity due to obesity over the next 10 years among Australians.

Methods: Prevalence, incidence, mortality, and absenteeism data were obtained from published sources. Life table models were created to estimate the productivity of Australians aged 17-69 years, with follow-up for 10 years or until age 70 years. Productivity was measured in terms of productivity adjusted life years (PALYs) lived. The life table was constructed for the current cohort of Australians of working age with obesity (including incident cases) and then repeated for the same cohort assuming they were not obese. The differences in outcomes between the two modelled analyses reflected the impact of obesity on productivity. All outcomes were discounted by 5% per annum.

Results: Obesity resulted in over 54,000 excess deaths, and a loss of 285,000 (discounted) PALYs. If the economic value of each PALY was assumed to be equivalent to the Australian gross domestic product per equivalent full-time worker, which in 2015 was AUD $192,000, then the loss of PALYs attributable to obesity would equate to a loss of AUD $55 billion to the Australian economy.

Conclusions: The results support the need to implement measures, strategies and ultimately policies to manage and control the growing epidemic of obesity.


K. Aravind Menon: None. E. Zomer: Consultant; Self; Amgen Inc., AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc., Shire. D. Liew: Advisory Panel; Self; AstraZeneca, Bayer AG. Research Support; Self; AbbVie Inc., AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, CSL Behring, Pfizer Inc. B. de Courten: None.

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