Tuesday, August 14, 2012
THE ECONOMICS OF HEALTH
The last of the economic issues I will address at this point is the one relating to health, or perhaps the lack of it by many Americans who have become sedentary. Trails have an impact on this issue, both nationally and locally. I will address the national economic impact of health issues first.
Costs to businesses and individuals of a sedentary lifestyle are, unfortunately, well documented. The medical costs paid by third-party payers for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said that “Obesity is common, serious and costly, that more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese, and that obesity-related conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer are costing Americans an estimated $147 billion. (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html)
These costs are avoidable by better dietary habits and exercising more. Trails provide residents with an easy way to integrate exercise into their lives and, when that happens, money is saved by individuals, employers and businesses, improving not just our bottom lines but our waistlines, too.
Outdoor exercise improves our health and wellbeing and reduces the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity. Improved health prevents nearly $800 million in medical care costs annually. The economic value increases to nearly $1.3 billion in savings when added to avoided workers’ compensation costs, and costs related to lost productivity in addition to direct use benefits and avoided medical care costs.