Physical inactivity is costing us billions of dollars, study finds

Physical inactivity is costing us billions of dollars, study finds


New research shows just how much of an economical burden sedentarism is for all of us. A study conducted by Dr Melody Ding and a team of researchers from the University of Sydney and published in The Lancet in late July reveals that in 2013 physical inactivity cost  $67.5 billion globally in healthcare expenditure and lost productivity.

At both a global and individual country level these numbers are very likely to be an underestimate of the real cost, because of the lack of data in many countries.

The study, based on data from 142 countries, highlights the financial cost of physical inactivity by looking at the direct healthcare cost, productivity losses, and disability-adjusted life years for five major diseases commonly associated with inactivity: heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer. 

In a increasingly sedentary world, the findings of future similar studies are bound to be even more worrisome than the one carried out by the team of Australian researchers. As Dr. Ding herself states, “globally, the economic burden of physical inactivity is projected to increase, particularly in low and middle-income countries, if no action is taken to improve population levels of physical activity”

She further suggests that the research carried out aims to provide “a better understanding of the true burden of the pandemic of physical inactivity, and provides useful information for policy making, funding allocation and benchmarking in global prevention of non-communicable disease”.