Pandemic of Global Physical Inactivity Costs Lives and Money

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ding Ding (Melody), Ph.D., MPH NHMRC Early Career Senior Research Fellow/Sydney University Postdoctoral Research Fellow Prevention Research Collaboration Sydney School of Public Health The University of Sydney

Dr. Melody Ding

Ding Ding (Melody), Ph.D., MPH
NHMRC Early Career Senior Research Fellow
Sydney University Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Prevention Research Collaboration
Sydney School of Public Health
The University of Sydney

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Understanding the true burden of a pandemic is indispensable for informed decision making. After decades of research, we now have established knowledge about how physical inactivity contributes to pre-mature deaths and chronic diseases, but the economic burden of physical inactivity remains unquantified at the global level. Through estimating the economic burden of physical inactivity for the first time, we hope to create a business case for investing in cost-effective actions to promote physical activity at the global levels.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: First and foremost, the pandemic of physical inactivity costs countries around the world billions, even when we estimate the costs conservatively.

Second, it is important to bear in mind that the economic burden is distributed unequally across countries. High income countries pay more in terms of financial costs because they can afford the healthcare. Low and middle income countries pay more in terms of life lost (mortality and disability) because of the unmet health needs —–this indicates a global inequality.

Third, because of the current distribution of disease and economic burdens associated with physical inactivity, we expect an increase in the economic cost of physical inactivity worldwide as low and middle income countries develop economically.

Last but not least, now we know the economic cost of inaction, we reinforce the urgency to take immediate actions. We call for a global response to mitigate against the pandemic of physical inactivity by using creative and cost-effective strategies that not only bring health benefits but also the economic benefits.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We identified several data gaps, particularly in terms of healthcare expenditure on a range a of diseases/conditions, particularly in low and middle income countries. Future studies should continue to improve the current estimates when more updated and specific data become available. Future research will benefit from a more complete assessment of indirect costs, such as productivity losses due to disability and absenteeism, and costs of informal care.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Please keep in mind that our published estimate is an academic piece of work, and therefore we focused on the data that we were confident about and did not intend to make any unrealistic assumptions or projections. Therefore our estimates are inherently conservative and should not be compared with estimates of economic burdens of other risk factors, which are likely derived from different types of analyses using different methodologies. In terms of the “true” economic burden of physical inactivity, our current estimate of $67.5 billion is like to be “the tip of the iceberg”.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation: Lancet

Ding Ding, Kenny D Lawson, Tracy L Kolbe-Alexander, Eric A Finkelstein, Peter T Katzmarzyk, Willem van Mechelen, Michael Pratt. The economic burden of physical inactivity: a global analysis of major non-communicable diseases.The Lancet, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)30383-X

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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