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Health Econ. 2009 Aug;18(8):885-901. doi: 10.1002/hec.1408.

Physical inactivity and its impact on healthcare utilization.

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Department of Economics & SPHERU, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Sask., Canada.


Physically inactive people are expected to use more healthcare services than active people. This inactivity imposes costs on the collectively funded health insurance programs. In this paper, excess utilization of healthcare services due to physical inactivity is examined using count data models and the Canadian Community Health Survey. The aim of the paper is to estimate utilization of healthcare services associated with inactivity and to estimate its impact on the Canadian healthcare system. The results suggest that physical inactivity increases hospital stays, and use of physician and nurse services. On average, an inactive person spends 38% more days in hospital than an active person. S/he also uses 5.5% more family physician visits, 13% more specialist services, and 12% more nurse visits than an active individual. The subsequent social cost of inactivity for the healthcare system is substantial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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