Despite public health recommendations issued to reduce the burden of chronic diseases, Canadians are still not meeting recommendations for vegetables and fruit consumption, physical activity, body weight, and tobacco use. Recent studies have revealed that nearly 75% of Canadians are not meeting daily-recommended vegetable and fruit servings.
Estimates exist for the economic burden of other lifestyle risk factors, however, estimates for the economic burden associated with our diet are rare. In response to this gap, we estimated the economic burden attributable to the inadequate consumption of vegetables and fruit in Canada using an approach called the population-attributable fraction with a societal perspective.
We considered the consumption of vegetables and fruit by Canadians, the risk that inadequate consumption poses for chronic diseases, and the direct costs for the treatment and management of these diseases (e.g., hospital care, physician services, medication) and indirect costs due to productivity losses. We accessed the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to complete this analysis.
Our study found that approximately 80% of women and 89% of men consume inadequate amounts of vegetables and fruit, resulting in an economic burden of $CAN 3.3 billion per year. Direct health care costs accounted for 30.5% of this total; indirect costs accounted for 69.5%. These avoidable costs translate to $CAN 92 per capita per year, equivalent to 36 dollars for each daily serving short of the recommended amount. A modest 1 percentage point annual reduction in the prevalence of inadequate vegetables and fruit consumption over the next 20 years would avoid approximately $CAN 10.8 billion.
Further investments in the promotion of vegetables and fruit will prevent chronic diseases and substantially reduce direct and indirect health-care costs.
Find the full open-access article here:
Ekwaru JP, Ohinmaa A, Loehr S, Setayeshgar S, Nguyen XT, Veugelers PJ (2017). The economic burden of inadequate consumption of vegetables and fruit in Canada. Public Health Nutrition 20(3): 515-523. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5426323/