Costs associated with insufficient physical activity in Germany: cross-sectional results from the baseline examination of the German national cohort (NAKO)

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Abstract

Background: Insufficient physical activity (PA) is a leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases posing a significant economic burden to healthcare systems and societies. The study aimed to examine the differences in healthcare and indirect costs between sufficient and insufficient PA and the cost differences between PA intensity groups. Methods: The cross-sectional analysis was based on data from 157,648 participants in the baseline examination of the German National Cohort (NAKO) study. Healthcare and indirect costs were calculated based on self-reported information on health-related resource use and productivity losses. PA in the domains leisure, transport, and work was assessed by the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire and categorized into sufficient/insufficient and intensity levels (very low/low/medium/high) based on PA recommendations of the World Health Organization. Two-part models adjusted for relevant covariates were used to estimate mean costs for PA groups. Results and conclusion: Insufficiently active people had higher average annual healthcare costs (Δ €188, 95% CI [64, 311]) and healthcare plus indirect costs (Δ €482, 95% CI [262, 702]) compared to sufficiently active people. The difference was especially evident in the population aged 60 + years and when considering only leisure PA. An inverse association was observed between leisure PA and costs, whereas a direct association was found between PA at work and costs. Adjusting for the number of comorbidities reduced the differences between activity groups, but the trend persisted. The association between PA and costs differed in direction between PA domains. Future research may provide further insight into the temporal relationship between PA and costs.

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Gottschalk, S., König, H. H., Weber, A., Leitzmann, M. F., Stein, M. J., Peters, A., … Dams, J. (2024). Costs associated with insufficient physical activity in Germany: cross-sectional results from the baseline examination of the German national cohort (NAKO). European Journal of Health Economics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10198-024-01697-9

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