Friday, May 22, 2009

Recession Is Bad for Health

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says a new survey of its members suggests the recession and fears of money problems are having negative and potentially serious effects on public health. And the American Heart Association says in another survey that it is concerned that people are cutting back on exercise and eating more low-cost fattening foods to save money, which could worsen the nation’s obesity problem. ‘We’ve made dramatic gains in recent years in our fight against heart disease and stroke, but trends like these threaten to reverse these gains,’ says Timothy Gardner, MD, president of the AHA. ‘We need to remind people that even in hard times, their health is important.’ Sandra Fryhofer, MD, an Atlanta internist, says corporate downsizing and the resultant loss of health insurance is literally killing people. ‘Now patients have to be proactive,” she tells WebMD. ‘Take a walk instead of worrying. Some people are saying they can’t pay, and we just try to do what we can. A lot of people have had to be put on antidepressants. I tell them to eat the right foods and exercise, even if they have to give up their [health] clubs.’ Kara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, says membership has dropped 2.4% since 2007, to 45.5 million. However, “More and more people are realizing that money spent on a health club membership is not just ‘money spent’, it’s an investment in, and commitment to, their health,” she tells WebMD. ‘The return on investment is high, and the benefits of exercise are innumerable.’ Gardner says employers can save $16 for every $1 they invest in health and wellness.”

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