The Economics of Fitness
Did you know that although obesity is rampant in the United States (Mississippi is #1) that weight control remains low on the list of national public health priorities as it receives much less support in funding from the National institutes of Health than other widely established diseases? In 1995 the economic cost of obesity-related problems was $51.6 billion which translates into about 7.2% of the $715 billion cost of total illness. Current estimated total health-care costs have risen to almost $100 billion, or about 10% of the more than $1trillion dollar cost of remaining ill. Studies also show that as body fat percentages go up, so does the use of health-care resources.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “It has been estimated that $30 billion to $50 billion dollars are spent annually on weight loss gimmicks and remedies with an annual death rate (attributable to obesity) of 324,940 per year.” Researchers at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan (University of Michigan Health & Retirement Study, Ann Arbor, MI) studied the wealth consequences for obese and non-obese women and men between 1992 and 1998. Individual net worth of a moderate to severely obese woman was about 40% less than her normal-weight counterpart, even after controlling for health, martial status, and other demographic factors. By 1998 an obese woman between ages 57 and 67 possessed about 60% less economically than a normal weight female of the same category.
It is a fact that the more fit and healthy a worker is, the more productive that person is. Less sick days are taken due to illness and/or injury, they have a more positive mental outlook, and are simply harder workers than their unfit counterparts. There is a direct relationship to our countries economy and the number of worker days missed. A worker that stays on an exercise program (healthy diet, regular exercise) is a happier, healthier, more productive worker who is an asset to his or her company.
Ironically, however, the United nations reports that the number of people short of food fell from 920 million in 1980 to 799 million in 2000, even though the world’s population increased by 1.6 billion over the 20 year period. This is a huge part of the problem. All of this inexpensive food allows us to eat more for less. Human beings are designed to store calories (like money in the bank) in the form of fat for lean times, as in our ancestry when food was scarce. This now shows itself in our ever-expanding waistlines and thus correspondingly; healthcare costs. It seems as soon as mankind solves one problem he creates another.
The December 13th 2003 issue of the British magazine The Economist, stated, “If everybody is forced to carry the weight of the seriously fat, then everybody has an interest in seeing them slim down.” The Economist went on to say, “The health secretary, Tommy Thompson, is trying to wiggle his way around a prohibition to allow health companies to give discounts to people on fitness programs.” The point is, we all have a reason to get fit, not only for our own health but for the economy of our nation as well.
Note: some material in this article was taken from EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY 5th ed., ENERGY, NUTRITION, and HUMAN PERFORMANCE, Mcardle, Katch & Katch.
Express workouts are in today. John McCarthy, executive director of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association in Boston states, “the fitness consumer is time-starved and many clients want to squeeze a fitness program into their tight schedules. Most are going towards a thirty minute workout routine.” The Surgeon General recommends 30minutes of daily physical activity. Barbara Bushman, an associate professor of health and physical education at Southwestern Missouri State University in Springfield, and a spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine states, “30minute programs and classes can fit into most schedules.”
MSNBC – Website: http://www.msnbc.com, Fitness Section, March 5, 2004.