Another Look at the Economics of Inactivity

One of the costs of being sedentary is fiscal: the cost of medical services you would otherwise not have needed due to your increased risk of age-related disease. Here is another researcher running the numbers: "Physical inactivity is a recognized public health issue in Canada and globally ... A common approach for assessing the public health impact of physical inactivity is to measure the prevalence of the population not meeting physical activity guidelines. Recent surveillance data based on objective measures indicate that 85% of Canadian adults do not meet Canada's physical activity guidelines of 150 min/week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity ... A second approach for assessing the public health impact of physical inactivity is to estimate the proportion of a disease within the population that is directly attributable to physical inactivity. For instance, 19% of the coronary artery disease cases in Canadian men are due to physical inactivity ... A third approach for assessing the public health impact of physical inactivity is to estimate the financial burden it places on the health care system and economy. The most recent Canadian estimates, based on 2001 data, suggest that the annual economic burden of physical inactivity is $5.3 billion. ... Similar to the 2001 estimates, the health care cost of physical inactivity in this report was estimated using a prevalence-based approach, which required 3 pieces of information: (1) the risks of chronic conditions in physically inactive individuals, (2) the direct and indirect costs of these chronic diseases, and (3) the prevalence of physical inactivity in the population. ... The estimated direct, indirect, and total health care costs of physical inactivity in Canada in 2009 were $2.4 billion, $4.3 billion, and $6.8 billion, respectively. These values represented 3.8%, 3.6%, and 3.7% of the overall health care costs." It is interesting to compare these numbers with research on individual lifetime medical cost differences that stem from being out of shape, and with some other number crunching on the economics of health and longevity.

Link: http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/full/10.1139/h2012-061

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