Economic Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle
Shifting to a more optimal diet would reduce risk factors including obesity, hypertension, etc., as well as diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. The article below focuses on cost and benefits of diet-related factors of CHD, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporotic hip fractures. The article states , “the benefits of healthy eating in the United States (are estimated) to be $114.5 billion per year (in 2012 dollars) in medical savings, increased productivity, and the value of prolonged life” (Anew & Rahkovsky, 2013).
A study found that when fruit and vegetable consumption increase, 1.93 million CVD events were prevented and 0.35 million CVD deaths were prevented. In regards to economic benefits, this saved $40 billion in healthcare costs. This study also looked at other healthy food options and how increasing healthy food options intake can also save medical costs. These healthy food options included fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, seafood, and plant oils. So, with the increase of these healthy food options, 3.28 million CVD events and 0.62 million deaths can be prevented, as well as 0.12 million diabetes cases can be prevented. As a result, medical cost savings can be around $100 billion (Lee et al., 2019).
A dynamic model created for a study in the American Journal of Public Health predicts that, "modest sustained weight loss may yield substantial health and economic benefits. Among persons who are moderately obese, for example, a 10% weight loss would reduce the expected number of years of life with hypertension and diabetes by 1.5 to 2.6 and 0.8 to 1.1, respectively, depending on age and sex. Lifetime risk of CHD would be reduced by 17 to 28 cases per 1000. Expected lifetime medical care costs of the 5 diseases of interest: hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, type 2 diabetes, CHD, and stroke-would decline by approximately $3300 to $3800 per person” (Oster, Thompson, Edelsberg, Bird, & Colditz, 1999).
A study looked to examine the economic and environmental benefits of increasing bicycle use in 11 midwestern cities (approximately 31.3 million people). They found that using a bicycle instead of automobiles for short trips, such as errands, would reduce mortality by 1,295 deaths per year due to improved air quality and increased exercise. Additionally, making 50% of short trips by bike would save approximately $3.8 billion per year from avoided mortality and reduced health care costs. The researchers estimated that the combined benefits from improved air quality and physical fitness from using a bike instead of cars would be greater than $8 billion per year (Grabow, Spak, Holloway, Stone Jr., Mednick, & Patz, 2012).
The American Heart Association published a study in 2016 that found that exercise can save the average American money each year. The average American who meet the guidelines for exercise can save up to $2,500 more than those not meeting the guidelines. The recommendation for the average adult is at least 150-300 minutes per week at a moderate intensity, or 75-150 minutes per week at a vigorous intensity of aerobic activity and strength training at least twice a week (Valero-Elizondo et al., 2016).
Many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes are related to diet choices. Not only are these chronic diseases emotionally and physically difficult, but they can create huge financial burdens as well. Therefore, a study was done to see not only the health impact of making healthier eating choices, but also the amount of saving in health care costs. The study found that when people have a healthy eating pattern their health care costs will be significantly reduced. Such savings could be up to billions of dollars. For instance, the study found that when people improved their diet by 20% on the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) or Mediterranean Diet score (MED), not only did the number of chronic health conditions decrease, but also health care cost savings were between $16.7 billion to $31.5 billion (Scrafford, Bi, Multani, Murphy, Schmier, & Barraj, 2019).