Obesity Cost Calculator™

Obesity is a growing trend affecting workers all over the world. Forward-thinking organizations are looking for ways to quantify the magnitude of this challenge and to assess the options and benefits of providing interventions and incentives to better manage the health of their employees.

Faced with the growing challenges of obesity’s impact on health, researchers at RTI have conducted extensive analysis to understand the complex relationships between weight, obesity-related diseases, medical expenditures, and work loss. Based on this research, RTI developed a methodology that estimates the medical and work loss costs associated with obesity. Using this methodology, RTI created an Obesity Cost Calculator™ (OCC) that quantifies the costs of obesity from an employer perspective and helps evaluate potential intervention programs to reduce these costs.

The development of the original OCC was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CDC Foundation, and Northrop Grumman Corporation. The tool, which was previously available on the CDC’s Web site, has been a resource for various groups such as benefits consultants, health insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, and companies offering employee health and wellness programs. Since its original inception in 2005, the tool has been updated to offer the following expanded benefits:

  • improved portability via an iPad app
  • enhanced graphical displays with a better, user-friendly interface that is more efficient and easy to use
  • updated outputs based on more recent data (2012 data instead of 2008)

OCC Use and Features

The updated RTI OCC is now a two-part tool—estimated costs and return on investment (ROI) analysis—designed to collect and evaluate data provided by human resources or benefits personnel, provide an estimate of the obesity-related medical and absenteeism costs to an organization, and compare the costs and benefits of user-defined weight loss interventions. To estimate costs, users answer a series of questions and input numerical data about the employee population, if known; if certain values are unknown, the OCC will use data from credible national data sources for default estimates.

The ROI portion of the tool helps organizations assess costs and benefits of various weight loss programs and calculates their break-even points. Benefits consultants and companies providing health and wellness programs to employers can use the OCC in several ways, including as an educational tool to estimate the costs of obesity to an employer or as a sales tool to demonstrate the estimated impact and benefits of an intervention, which can encourage employers to adopt a wellness program.

The tool has the following key functionalities:

Obesity-Related Costs

  • Estimates based on the organization's demographic characteristics
  • Industry and state-level defaults for high-level estimates
  • Detailed estimates by severity of obesity
  • Immediate feedback of results
  • Graphic representation of results

Comparisons of User-Defined Interventions

  • Targeted interventions for high-cost groups among the obese
  • User-designed intervention effectiveness
  • Varying time horizons for interventions
  • Estimated savings for medical expenditures and for medical expenditures plus work loss
  • Number of years until interventions are cost-saving




RTI is actively seeking licensing applicants who are interested in using the improved OCC tool. Please click here for more information on how to apply.