Posted by: audreybenenati | January 14, 2010

Spend $1 in prevention, save $5.60

July 17, 2008 | 7:00 am

With the housing market spiraling downward, 401(k) investments taking a dive, gas prices over the top, people lining up to pull their money out of banks, and jobs disappearing, the Trust for America’s Health has a much-needed bit of optimistic investment advice.

Nationwide, if we spend $10 per person in proven community-based programs to boost physical activity, improve nutrition and prevent smoking, the country could save more than $16 billion annually within five years, according to a report released today. That comes out to a savings of $5.60 for every dollar invested.

The organization’s report, "Prevention for a Healthier America: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities," includes a state-by-state analysis of savings. California, for example, would get a savings of $4.80 for every dollar spent. An investment of $10 per Californian would save more than $1.7 billion within five years.

The report focuses on programs that do not require medical care, such as efforts to add sidewalks and parks in communities; to provide affordable, nutritious food; and to increase tobacco taxes.

Implementing programs related to exercise, diet and smoking reduction have been shown to reduce rates of Type II diabetes and high blood pressure by 5% within two years. Such programs can also reduce heart disease, kidney disease and stroke by 5% within five years, and reduce some forms of cancer, arthritis and lung disease by 2.5% within 10 to 20 years.

"Healthcare costs are crippling the U.S. economy. Keeping Americans healthier is one of the most important, but overlooked ways we could reduce these costs," Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health, said in a news release. "This study shows that with a strategic investment in effective, evidence-based disease prevention programs, we could see tremendous returns in less than five years — sparing millions of people from serious diseases and saving billions of dollars."


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