Maya is the Physical Activity Coordinator for DPH.
Spending too much time sitting on the couch is costly. Not just for our health – but for our wallets too. And, in light of the lively healthcare debates going on all over the country, I thought this might be a good time to talk about how much money being overweight and inactive is costing us – you, me and our healthcare system.
Here’s some data I’d like to share with you. In 2000, the total cost of obesity was estimated at $117 billion. In the same year, physical inactivity (among adults) cost $76 billion. The glass-half-full way of looking at this is if all inactive American adults became active, we would save $76 billion (in 2000 dollars). I think it’s safe to say these numbers would be a little bit higher in 2009.
Let me restate this plainly: We are spending a ton of money (pun intended) treating issues that are caused by us NOT MOVING ENOUGH.
But, there is some good news – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if just 10% of adults starting walking regularly we could save $5.6 billion per year in costs related to treating heart disease. Additionally, if an overweight person loses (and keeps off) 10% of their weight, they will reduce their medical costs by $2,200 – $5,300 over their lifetime.
So, what does all this mean? Well, basically, we need to do a better job of creating environments that support and allow everyone to be active and lead healthy lifestyles. One thing we can do is to re-allocate resources within our communities and organizations so that funds are used more efficiently to support policies, places and spaces that will get more people moving.
Ok, you may be saying, “What resources?” Well, yes, I hear you. But there are resources out there. We must be persuasive in our arguments as to why those limited funds should be spent on strategies to support and promote prevention.
Check out this “Physical Inactivity Calculator” from East Carolina University. This is a quick way to determine an estimate of costs related to medical care, worker’s compensation and lost productivity associated with inactivity at a community or organizational level. These numbers can be very powerful and should be used to make informed decisions on how to disperse resources throughout a community or organization.
Just plug in some basic information and, voila! In a few minutes, you’ll have concrete (estimate) numbers on how much money physical inactivity is costing your organization, and how much money your organization can save if only 5% more people in your organization became active.
This is a powerful tool for policymakers, community leaders, employers, and organizations to see what the bottom line is when we collectively sit on our bottoms for too long.
Try this out for the town you live in or for an organization you belong to – what numbers do you come up with? Do you think this information will help decision makers’ value and fund prevention efforts in your community or organization? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Share on Facebook.
The Importance of Hand Washing! posted on Nov 30
I spent the weekend preparing the house for Thanksgiving. In a drawer, I came across a bar of soap in the shape of a duck that I had received years ago. I had never used it because it wasn’t scented and it seemed too cute …Continue Reading The Importance of Hand Washing!
Weekly Flu Report, November 27, 2015 posted on Nov 27
Rates of flu-like illness remain at low levels in the Commonwealth, according to the latest weekly flu report. We can expect these numbers to rise in the weeks and months ahead, however, so now’s the time to get your flu shot if you haven’t done …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, November 27, 2015
Preventing Sharps Injuries among Healthcare Workers: 15 Years and Counting posted on Nov 23
“Since passage of the Massachusetts Act to Relative to Needlestick Injury Prevention, measurable progress has been made, but significant work remains in our efforts to eradicate preventable sharps injuries. Unfortunately, healthcare workers continue to bear the brunt of the burden of these potentially life-changing exposures. …Continue Reading Preventing Sharps Injuries among Healthcare Workers: 15 Years and Counting