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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2015, Article ID 298698, 7 pages
Research Article

Obesity Is Associated with an Increase in Pharmaceutical Expenses among University Employees

1Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
2Department of Economics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA
3Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
4Emory Global Health Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

Received 27 September 2014; Accepted 16 January 2015

Academic Editor: Francesco Saverio Papadia

Copyright © 2015 Julie A. Gazmararian et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. To examine costs associated with obesity in an employee population and factors associated with increased costs. Methods. We used data from the Physical Activity and Life Style (PALS) study, a randomized prospective design evaluating three interventions to increase physical activity among physically inactive nonfaculty university employees (). The primary exposure variable, obesity (measured by body mass index), was obtained from the in-person baseline survey. Covariates were obtained from the baseline survey and included demographic characteristics and health status. Data from the baseline survey was linked with administrative data to determine pharmaceutical, inpatient, outpatient, and total health care costs for three years. Average monthly expenditures for obese and nonobese individuals were compared using t-tests and a two-part multivariate regression model adjusted for demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and health behaviors. Results. Although in-patient and outpatient expenses were not associated with obesity, pharmaceutical expenditures were $408 or 87.2% higher per year ($468 versus $876) for obese individuals than for nonobese individuals, which reflected poorer health behaviors and health status of obese adults. Conclusion. Awareness of the costs associated with obesity among employees can stimulate employers to make the investment in providing employer-sponsored wellness and health improvement programs to address obesity.