, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 239-245,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 07 Mar 2010

Millennials and the World of Work: The Impact of Obesity on Health and Productivity

Abstract

Purpose

Thirty states now report one in three children between 10–17 years of age are either overweight or obese. This disturbing trend will have lasting implications for our children, specifically those known as the Millennial generation born between 1982 and 1993.

Approach

Utilizing evidence in the existing literature, we created an economic model to predict the impact of obesity on the aggregate lifetime earnings for the Millennial generation and the consequences for employers and employees. We provide case reports on successful business strategies that speak to the classic characteristics of the Millennials.

Findings

The lifetime medical expenditure that is attributable to obesity for an obese 20-year-old varies from $5,340 to $29,460, increasing proportionally with rising weight. If the model’s assumptions hold true, Millennial American women will earn an average of $956 billion less while men will earn an average of $43 billion less due to obesity.

Implications

As Millennials enter the workforce, the growing prevalence of obesity among their generation may negatively impact their productivity and resulting economic prosperity. Given that most of one’s adult life is spent on the job, employers have a unique opportunity to contribute to the solution by creating an environmental culture of health.

Originality/Value

This is the first assessment, which we know of, that examines the potential economic impact of obesity on the Millennial generation. We propose a unique approach applying a common health framework, the Chronic Care Model, to business strategies to contain costs and maximize Millennial workers’ health and productivity.