cost of health
Among all the bad news on the radio as I drove to work this morning, I heard that the Heart Foundation has released data from a new study stating that now 25% of Australian kids are overweight or obese, and that they are tipped to be the first generation EVER to live less than their parents.
This is depressing on so many counts – the emotional/psychological load on these kids because of the behaviours we, as adults, allow them to assimilate; their decreased quality of life; and the financial burden on society… just this point alone has so many ramifications. just ask yourself, who is going to look after their parents in their later years??
Now, I know that we keep talking about changed eating habits, increased screen (tv, computers, etc) time, and decreased movement at school. but lets face it: are these things really to blame? or are we, as the example setting parents/adults allowing and driving our kids towards these behaviours?? I authored an article (A decrease in the association between the physical activity patterns of Australian parents and their children; 1985-1997) published in 2005 in the Journal of Science Medicine and Sport, which showed that not only are kids playing less sport now, but also the strength of our influence over their behaviour seems to be decreasing. I guess all you have to do is look at the empty parks around our neighbourhoods that once upon a time had fathers kicking the footy with their sons…
I think there’s also another force at play here, and that is sport, or at least sports-based Phys. Ed. I think that this model rewards the genetically gifted kids (those that can play sports well, and hence also enjoy it), and not kids who are less coordinated/skilled, who may still be trying hard. We all know what happens to these kids, don’t we? they struggle to pick up the intricacies of the game, are the last picked to be part of teams, and eventually develop lack of self-confidence, which leads to avoidance behaviours. What happened to ‘play’? what happened to the notion that schools should be trying (supposedly) to equip our children to succeed in life as adults? is being able to catch and throw a ball with a Lacrosse stick going to make them more influential and valuable citizens, and fulfilled human beings?? how about instilling in them healthy behaviours; to understand that it is ‘movement’ that will save their lives?
There are programs in the States (of A) that now equip children with Heart Rate monitors and reward (and grade) children based on their relative intensity of work, rather than on their skills. this way all children can work within their skill limits and still achieve great outcomes in health. An interesting concept I think.
So, adults, get out and PLAY with your kids! show them that you enjoy moving and being active; that its not a chore, but a reward! We have amazing bodies, which thrive with movement!
just saw the new Australian anti-smoking campaign on TV “Path2Quit”, check it out at www.path2quit.com.au
Firstly, great campaign. simple and to the point. and needed, as we know that as a smoker you will lose, on average, 8 years of healthy life. At face value, it seems that investing heavily in the reduction of community wide smoking is a valid strategy as this is the lifestyle behaviour with the largest effect.
However, Physical inactivity is also a major player, with those that are generally inactive will lose an average of 6.5 years of healthy life.
There is a very interesting factor that is missing from this comparison however, and that is that more than twice as many Australians over the age of 14 years are inactive (7.3M) compared to the number of smokers in this age bracket (2.9M). If we do the sums, smoking Australians will collectively lose 23million years of healthy life… yes, you read that right! but inactive australians will lose 48million years of healthy life…
I wonder if we are investing twice the resources and legislative power to increasing the physical activity levels in this great country….?
An Australian government parliamentary committee is proposing giving the morbidly obese tax-payer funded lap-band surgery.
Some of the facts are: Obesity cost us $50 billion in 08 (wow, don’t just skim over that number!).
This surgery can have drastic and rapid effects in terms of reducing weight, disease, financial and personal costs associated with obesity, both to the individual and to tax payers.
It will only be available to those qualifying under clinical guidelines.
My issue with this is this: our health system is not a health system, its an illness system! where is the prevention??!
How is this for a prevention mindset: Considering the $50billion cost, the government has provided $872million for preventative health programs. Thats 0.02%of the cost being invested!!! and thats for all health programs, that includes obesity, its not even for obesity alone.
Our (SA) federal MP Steve Georganas defended the strategy in ‘Today Tonight’ (tuesday 2nd June09) using the stats above,and said that the program would only be available to those that “have tried everything”. Lets look at that for a second… ‘TRIED’ ‘EVERYTHING‘… when questioned about what may have led individuals to end up in that condition, he mentioned a series of lifestyle behaviours, not surprisingly including poor dietary habits, low levels of physical activity, and high levels of sedentary behaviour, such as prolonged use of TV and computers (its OK, I’m going for a run as soon as I post this!).
They tried everything??? how about actually doing something?? I have yet to meet an individual who has not had very positive results with weight loss when they have actually committed to it! I hope I don’t sound patronising or inconsiderate. I understand that there’s a vast range of socio-demographic and mental health issues that play a very serious role in this debate, not to mention hormonal imbalances that can make things tougher; I spent a two year-honours degree studying them.
My point is this: where is the prevention?! where is the focus on education and facilitating healthier choices?? its in the 0.02%!! c’mon, Mr Rudd, lets get serious about a very serious issue!
By Max Martin. Director/Exercise Physiologist – iNform Health and Fitness Solutions
I know I’m not alone in my concern for the health of Australians and I’m not the first (by any stretch of the imagination) to report on the seriousness of the issue. However, I believe that right now we are facing a ‘critical’ period that requires our prioritized attention. Let me explain: As an owner of a Personal Training and Exercise Physiology studio in Adelaide I have on one hand experienced the effects of a tough economy over the first half of this calendar year, and unfortunately you probably have too. The combination of a number of factors have led to two thirds of respondents to a recent survey stating that they would re-consider gym memberships due to financial pressures.
On the other hand, at a time of global focus on sporting competition, we have as a nation officially become the heavyweight champion of the world! Unfortunately this is not a title we want to have! Figures from a recent study released by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, report that 26 per cent of adult Australians are now obese, one million more than the last calculation in 1999! The findings give Australia a Gold Medal as the world’s fattest nation, ahead of the notoriously super-sized Americans, who have a 25 per cent obesity rate.
Based on these shocking new statistics, Access Economics has recalculated the costs of the burden of obesity on our nation. Their report, released at a government forum in Tasmania in August, shows the full cost to be $58 billion, far exceeding the $21 billion bill estimated in 2006. The direct costs are estimated at $8.3 billion, with a further $49.9 billion attributable to the value of lost wellbeing and premature death.
In the face of such news, can we afford to stand with arms crossed while people ‘reconsider’ the importance and value of their health? Should we as a nation re-evaluate what is most important to us? Should we achieve national pride from winning the greatest number of medals per head of population, as we tend to do, or from having a healthy and vibrant population?
Can we make a difference? I strongly believe so! But as the health and economical environment changes, it is critical that the decisions we make change as well. ‘Fitness’ is unfortunately becoming a discretional item. As budgets get tighter, gym memberships and personal training sessions are one of the first things to go. It is imperative that the message we give our community at large is one that extends past ‘just’ fitness and highlights the impact of their daily behaviours, such as their nutrition and physical activity, on health.
Dr Gary Deed, national president of Diabetes Australia, which commissioned the Access Economics report, said that the obesity epidemic was having a “direct and catastrophic influence on increasing the incidence of type-two diabetes. We know that obesity and type-two diabetes can be prevented and we need to make fundamental changes in the way we live to arrest the escalating crisis”. The report estimates that 242,000 Australians have type-two diabetes as a direct result of their obesity, a further 650,000 Australians can blame their cardiovascular disease on their weight, and more than 30,000 have colorectal, breast, uterine or kidney cancer as a result of their physique.
So we now face a critical time to make decisions with far reaching implications. It was not long after our Olympic Athletes had touched Australian soil after their great achievements in Beijing that discussions started about increasing funding to Olympic programs in preparation for the London Games. Now let me clarify that I am a sports loving, proud Australian who lost considerable sleep staying up late to watch our sporting achievements. Furthermore, I am personally involved in the development of athletes, including current medalists at Beijing. However, I think this is an issue of motivations and priorities. We have for a long time justified the millions of dollars spent per Olympic Medal won based on what’s known as ‘the trickle-down effect’. This speculates that success on the world stage will flow on and increase sports and physical activity participation at a grass roots level, a theory that unfortunately has not proved to be correct.
Our challenge then, lies in deciding what to do with our tax dollars already tagged for ‘sports’ and health’. Will we continue to pump them into an international ‘pride’ building contest or strategically allocate them to help reduce our rapidly increasing rates of obesity and related diseases?
For further information please contact our iNform Accredited Practitioners by visiting http://www.informhealth.com/