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.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race! posted on Mar 20
How to achieve your healthy lifestyle goals this National Nutrition Month! By Campbell Reiff It’s March, and you know what that means – spring is here! March is not only the month for the change in seasons, but is also National Nutrition Month! This month, the …Continue Reading Slow and Steady Wins the Race!
Weekly Flu Report, March 17, 2017 posted on Mar 17
Rates of flu-like illness rebounded slightly over the past seven days, according to the latest weekly flu report. Regardless of the swings from week to week, it’s important to note that we can expect to see flu continuing to circulate in our communities well into springtime. …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, March 17, 2017
Making Strides to Better Understanding Environmental Exposure posted on Mar 16
In partnership with the CDC, DPH is looking at the impact of certain environmental chemicals – such as lead and mercury – on Massachusetts residents. This technique, known as biomonitoring, measures environmental chemicals in the human body. Through a state-wide study, DPH is trying …Continue Reading Making Strides to Better Understanding Environmental Exposure