Objective: To determine the extent to which absenteeism costs associated with obesity and morbid obesity are traceable to diabetes, and whether obesity and morbid obesity remain predictors of absenteeism costs after controlling for diabetes.
Methods: Data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey for 2000-2004 are examined. Outcomes are probability of missing work in the previous year and number of workdays missed. Predictors include diabetes, obesity and morbid obesity, age, education, occupation category, and race. Models are estimated by gender.
Results: Probability of missing work in the past year, number of days missed, and absenteeism costs rise significantly with diabetes among the obese and morbidly obese, with costs higher for the morbidly obese, after controlling for diabetes.
Conclusions: Diabetes is strongly predictive of absenteeism among obese and morbidly obese workers. Employer efforts to reduce absenteeism should include consideration of anti-obesity interventions and diabetes prevention.