"Studies estimate that nearly 10 percent of U.S. corporate health care costs are due to obesity and its complications. For a large company like Dow, that means tens of millions of dollars a year. On top of that is lost productivity, not just from doctor's appointments and sick days but also, research suggests, because obese workers are simply less efficient on the job."Wow. OK. First off, there's "obesity and its complications." There is a small but highly qualified group of researchers, including Dr. Peter Muennig of Columbia med school, who are beginning to suggest that the much-vaunted "complications" of obesity (heart disease, diabetes, hypertension) may in fact be more complications of stress associated with the social and psychological stigma surrounding obesity for certain social groups. This is a guy who used to write about the "obesity epidemic" and wring his hands about DeathFatIsComingToGetYou, and now he writes this. In any event, it's far from proven that obesity causes these health issues.
And then there's the "research suggests" that "obese workers are simply less efficient." Are you freakin' kidding me? This is simply deplorable. Really. Here's what I wrote on NPR's website.
This is probably the most offensive and worst-informed story I have ever heard at NPR. The casual "research suggests" that "obese people are simply less efficient on the job" is just jaw-dropping. I dug up one of the studies that "suggests" this, and found the research's premises highly questionable at best. One quote: "Ricci and Chee (2005) estimate that on an annual basis, incremental costs associated with reduced productivity are $358 per obese worker." In other words, less than $1/day. As a highly educated, highly professional, and highly efficient fat worker, I am appalled that you would produce a story perpetuating the "fat people are lazy" stereotype on such flimsy evidence. What about parents' efficiency in the workplace? What about people with migraines? What about lost work productivity from the smokers who sneak out of the building every 90 minutes to feed their habit? Or those annoying Crohn's disease patients, always rushing to the restroom? I am going to devote the rest of my week (outside of my productive work time) to publicizing and denouncing this story. For shame, NPR.Hey, at least the smokers and IBS patients might be thin. Or they might not. It doesn't matter. IT DOESN'T MATTER. Your size has nothing to do with your productivity, unless your productivity is measured by how many times you can squeeze through a 14" squre hole in the course of a day (see Pooh, not being productive) or by how many annoying reporters you can asphyxiate by sitting on them. So, as promised, I'm devoting my spare time to letting the world know that NPR's story deserves a great big bogus-slap.