Economic burden of excessive sedentary behaviour in Canada

Objective: To estimate health care and health-related productivity costs associated with excessive sedentary behaviour (> 8 h/day and > 9 h/day) in Canadian adults.

Methods: Three pieces of information were used to estimate costs: (1) the pooled relative risk estimates of adverse health outcomes consistently shown to be associated with excessive sedentary behaviour, gathered from meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies; (2) the prevalence of excessive sedentary behaviour in Canadian men and women, obtained using waist-worn accelerometry in a nationally representative sample of adults (Canadian Health Measures Survey 2018-2019); and (3) the direct (health care) and indirect (lost productivity due to premature mortality) costs of the adverse health outcomes, selected using the Economic Burden of Illness in Canada 2010 data. The 2010 costs were then adjusted to 2021 costs to account for inflation, population growth, and higher average earnings. A Monte Carlo simulation was conducted to account for uncertainty in the model.

Results: The total costs of excessive sedentary behaviour in Canada were $2.2 billion (8 h/day cut-point) and $1.8 billion (9 h/day cut-point) in 2021, representing 1.6% and 1.3% of the overall burden of illness costs, respectively. The two most expensive chronic diseases attributable to excessive sedentary behaviour were cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. A 10% decrease in excessive sedentary behaviour (from 87.7% to 77.7%) would save an estimated $219 million per year in costs.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Jean-Philippe Chaput

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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