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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2019 Mar 25. pii: jech-2018-211758. doi: 10.1136/jech-2018-211758. [Epub ahead of print]

Direct healthcare costs of sedentary behaviour in the UK.

Author information

1
Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK lheron01@qub.ac.uk.
2
Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK.
3
School of Health Sciences, Ulster University, Newtownabbey, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Growing evidence indicates that prolonged sedentary behaviour increases the risk of several chronic health conditions and all-cause mortality. Sedentary behaviour is prevalent among adults in the UK. Quantifying the costs associated with sedentary behaviour is an important step in the development of public health policy.

METHODS:

National Health Service (NHS) costs associated with prolonged sedentary behaviour (≥6 hours/day) were estimated over a 1-year period in 2016-2017 costs. We calculated a population attributable fraction (PAF) for five health outcomes (type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease [CVD], colon cancer, endometrial cancer and lung cancer). Adjustments were made for potential double-counting due to comorbidities. We also calculated the avoidable deaths due to prolonged sedentary behaviour using the PAF for all-cause mortality.

RESULTS:

The total NHS costs attributable to prolonged sedentary behaviour in the UK in 2016-2017 were £0.8 billion, which included expenditure on CVD (£424 million), type 2 diabetes (£281 million), colon cancer (£30 million), lung cancer (£19 million) and endometrial cancer (£7 million). After adjustment for potential double-counting, the estimated total was £0.7 billion. If prolonged sedentary behaviour was eliminated, 69 276 UK deaths might have been avoided in 2016.

CONCLUSIONS:

In this conservative estimate of direct healthcare costs, prolonged sedentary behaviour causes a considerable burden to the NHS in the UK. This estimate may be used by decision makers when prioritising healthcare resources and investing in preventative public health programmes.

KEYWORDS:

cost analysis; health expenditure; healthcare cost; physical activity; public health; sedentary behaviour; sitting time

PMID:
30910857
DOI:
10.1136/jech-2018-211758

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: None declared.

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