Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Study: The High Price of Health

It's actually cheaper to be fat and out of shape than to be healthy.

Of course, you've probably noticed this at the grocery store when comparing mass-market products created by mega-corporations to foods in the natural food section. Certainly the cost of eating healthy makes an impact when walking out of Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) carrying a $100 of groceries in a single bag.
Exercise ain't cheap either, even for an outdoor athlete. Depending on your sports of choice, the cost of gear can be substantial. And more than likely you'll be logging a lot of car and plane miles to get to prime destinations for play. Even working out indoors at a gym can be pricey, either for a membership or the cost of equipment to train at home.
Okay, enough with the obvious. There is now scientific evidence that it's less expensive to be unhealthy. Using data from the Netherlands (2003), researchers created a mathematical model to predict lifetime health costs of lean non-smokers, obese non-smokers, and lean smokers. It turns out that the "healthy-living" group has the highest cost on society. Why? Because we live longer. And that means more expensive health interventions in the long run. On the bright side, our health costs are the lowest until around age 56.
There is even more new proof that healthier people longer. In a study just published in Circulation, over 15,000 men around age 60 were evaluated for cardio fitness on a treadmill and then tracked for all causes of death. They found that the healthiest people reduced their risk of death by 50% compared to moderately health and 70% compared to the least fit. The health benefit was linear too--the fitter you become, the better your odds of living longer.
So live healthy and live long...but be prepared to pay for it.

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