Betting that money is more persuasive than words, more employers vow to use financial rewards and penalties to prod their workers to fitness in 2012. Employers have seen serious problems related to obesity, she said, including higher rates of depression, absenteeism, low productivity and more medical claims. An overweight employee costs employers $5,000 more a year in health costs than a healthy-weight individual. The survey of 335 employers found that the share of companies that used financial rewards in health management programs increased to 54% in 2011 from 36% in 2009. In 2012, about 80% of companies plan to offer financial rewards.