Physical inactivity costs US$ 67.5 billion for the global economy

British medical magazine The Lancet published online on July 27th, results of research of economic burden of physical inactivity in the world, which is the first on global level. Research includes data of 142 countries representing 93.2% of the world’s population. Economic figures could inform resource prioritisation and motivate efforts to increase levels of physical activity.

Print this page

In 2013 physical inactivity cost is estimated to US$67.5 billion which is more than annual budget of some countries as Costa Rica. Repartition of the cost is divided to health-care systems counting US$53.8 billion on which public sector paid US$31.2 billion, US$12.9 billion by private sector and US$9.7 billion by households. In addition, physical inactivity related to deaths is estimated to US$13.7 billion in productivity loses, counting for 13.4 million people in the worldwide in 2013.

Total cost could be even bigger because research includes only five major diseases related to physical inactivity: coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer. More developed countries with higher income bear a larger proportion of economic burden (80.8% of health-care cost and 60.4% of indirect cost), while low-income and middle-income countries proportion is higher on disease burden (75.0% of DALYs). Head of the research, Melody Ding from Sydney University says if physical inactivity in developing countries continues to increase, financial burden will increase too.

Another The Lancet research shows it is possible to eliminate the risk of death due to sitting position eight hours per day, if physical activity is done one hour every day. The researchers classified individuals into four equally sized groups according to how active they were – less than 5 mins a day for the least active, up to 60-75 mins a day for the most active. People who sat for 8 hours a day but were physically active had a much lower risk of death compared to people who sat for fewer hours a day, but were not physically active.

Research includes data of more than 1 million people and shows only 25% have at least one hour of physical activity on daily basis. For the contrast, World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of physical activity per week while Japanese government recommend 60 minutes per day. It is said Japan is the first country in the world promoting ‘+10’ representing +10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). It encourages sedentary individuals to become progressively more active and also targets already physically active people.

Traveling is moving and by definition tourism industry should not be concerned by physical inactivity but with continuous growth on international level, we can easily image people working in tourism spend hours and hours in front of screen to make others travel/move. Doing more physical activity would benefit them to be healthier and help whole industry.