Consensus Statement from the first Economics of Physical Inactivity Consensus (EPIC) Conference (Vancouver)

Consensus Statement from the first Economics of Physical Inactivity Consensus (EPIC) Conference (Vancouver)

The Economics of Physical Inactivity Consensus (EPIC) group, which includes 5 CHHM members, recently published a consensus statement in the British Journal of Sports Medicine discussing the major topics explored at the ‘Economics of Physical Inactivity Consensus Workshop’ held in Vancouver 2011.

According to the authors, physical inactivity is a pandemic and one of the “most pressing healthcare issues of the 21st century” (Khan, et. al., BJSM 2014).

Given that physical activity is the prescription for the inactivity pandemic, the authors test the economic effectiveness of physical activity and physical activity programs in the same way a pharmoeconomic review of a cancer drug would be tested for effectiveness. Of particular interest they discuss the methodological challenges for health economists in sport and exercise medicine.

Key messages are shared in their conclusions and reproduced here:

  • Physical inactivity is a well-established problem.
  • The economic burden of physical inactivity accounts for 1–3% of total healthcare costs annually.
  • There is high-quality evidence to suggest that physical inactivity can be mitigated; thus costs can be saved.
  • It is currently difficult to determine how much can be saved. This is difficult to determine right now because of methodological challenges specific to conducting economic evaluations of physical inactivity interventions both at an individual and population level.

    The research priorities should be the following:

o   Rectify the methodological challenges (ie, choice of comparator, adequate power, long enough time horizon to accurately depict health gains/losses, research questions that align with decision-making priorities, accurate assessment of physical inactivity outcomes and cost-utility analysis methodology) discussed in this article to generate high-quality economic evaluation data that will inform future health policy decisions.

o   The economic group should reconvene, possibly in association with the IOC World Congress in Illness and Injury in Sport (2017) or the International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health (ICPAPH) in 2016 contingent on funding support with the intent of building a consensus on guidelines for economic evaluations of effective physical inactivity interventions.

The EPIC group:

Jennifer C Davis, Evert Verhagen, Stirling Bryan*, Teresa Liu-Ambrose*, Jeff Borland, David Buchner, Marike Hendriks, Richard Weiler, James Morrow Jr, Willem van Mechelen, Steven N Blair, Mike Pratt, Johann Windt*, Hashel al-Tunaiji, Erin Macri*, and Karim Khan*

* incidates CHHM members