The worldwide economic burden of physical inactivity was at least $67.5bn (£51.5bn; €61.5bn) in 2013—equivalent to the gross domestic product of Costa Rica that year—researchers have estimated. Their analysis, published in the Lancet, found that the worldwide cost of physical inactivity to healthcare systems was $53.8bn in 2013, of which $31.2bn was paid by the public sector, $12.9bn by the private sector, and $9.7bn by households. Physical inactivity related deaths were responsible for $13.7bn in lost productivity and 13.4 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs). The total economic impact of inactivity in the UK in 2013 was estimated to be $1.7bn, made up of $1.3bn in direct healthcare costs and $400m of lost productivity. High income countries bore the brunt of the economic burden (80.8% of healthcare costs and 60.4% of indirect costs), whereas a larger proportion of the disease burden (75.0% of DALYs) occurred in low and middle income countries. Lead author Melody Ding from the University of Sydney, Australia, told a press conference in London on 26 July, “The message here is that, because of the unequal distribution of wealth and therefore the unmet healthcare needs in low income countries, in wealthy countries at this stage they are paying for physical inactivity with their wallets and in low income countries they are paying for inactivity in terms of their life lost.” She added that the total cost of inactivity was likely to grow as low and middle income countries developed. “If the current trajectory of inactivity continues, so too will the economic burden in low and middle income countries which are currently poorly equipped to deal with chronic diseases linked to physical inactivity.” She also warned that the estimates were “very conservative.” The researchers used standardisedmethods and the best available data from 142 countries (representing 93.2% of the world’s population) to calculate their figures. Direct healthcare costs and DALYs were estimated for coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer attributable to physical inactivity. Productivity losses were estimated with a friction cost approach for physical inactivity related mortality. Analyses were based on national physical inactivity prevalence and adjusted population attributable fractions associated with physical inactivity for each disease outcome and all cause mortality.
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