Bad lifestyle habits will put you into hospital, Study
Bad lifestyle habits will put you into hospital, Study

Bad lifestyle habits will put you into hospital, Study

Ontarians spend more than 900,000 days in hospital at a cost of roughly $1.8 billion a year as a result of four common unhealthy behaviours, according to a new study released Thursday.

The study, conducted by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, tracked nearly 80,000 adult Ontarians between 2001 and 2012 to determine how many hospitalizations could be attributed to smoking, excessive drinking, poor diets and lack of exercise.

“From 2001 to 2012, we found that nearly one of every three days Ontarians spent in a hospital bed could be attributed to smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet and unhealthy alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Doug Manuel, lead author and senior scientist at ICES and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

The researchers have created an online calculator to help Ontarians estimate their life expectancy and the amount of time they might expect to spend in hospital due to their habits and lifestyle choices.

“We found that a 54-year-old Ontarian with the unhealthiest behaviours for all four risks had the same hospital use as the average 75-year-old Ontarian with none of the risks. That’s a 21-year health gap resulting from behaviours that are certainly modifiable,” said Dr. Manuel, who is also an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine at uOttawa.

While other studies have looked at the impact of these behaviours individually, this is the first time they have been assessed as a group.

“This study clearly shows the benefits of healthy living,” said Larry Stinson, President, Ontario Public Health Association. “Unfortunately, fixing this rather large problem is not as easy as people simply deciding to make healthier choices. We need to create an environment that actively makes it easier for Ontarians to live healthier lives, regardless of their income and where they live, work, study or play.”

In addition to increasing life expectancy and people’s overall quality of life, healthier living would also reduce demands placed on Canada’s health care system.

“As Ontario works towards a community model that provides the right health care in the right setting, gains in public health are essential,” said Dr. Jack Kitts, President and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital. “The shift will mean that acute care hospitals, such as The Ottawa Hospital, will be better able to focus expertise on providing the best care possible to the province’s sickest patients.”

The study led by Dr. Manuel examined 79,477 Ontarians who were surveyed between 2001 and 2005 regarding their health status. This group’s hospital use was then tracked to determine how much of that was attributable to the four behavioural risks.

The study found:

• Thirty-two per cent of hospital bed use between 2001 and 2012 could be attributed to smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet and unhealthy alcohol consumption.

• In 2011, these unhealthy behaviours accounted for the use of 942,000 hospital bed days, at a cost of $1.8 billion for insured residents of Ontario.

• Nearly all Ontarians reported at least one of the four health behaviour risks; only 7.2 per cent reported none.

• People between the ages of 20 and 79 with the unhealthiest behaviour for all four categories used 280 per cent more bed days (42 more days) when compared to people with the healthiest behaviours.

• Smoking had the greatest impact on hospital use, followed by physical inactivity and poor diet (17 per cent, 12 per cent and 6 per cent of hospital use, respectively).

• Ontarians with the lowest family income occupied hospital beds for 171 per cent more days than people with the highest income. Less than half of this difference was attributed to behaviour risks.

“We know that what we do has a tremendous impact on our health. But this report shows just how much those modifiable risk factors are costing our health care system in not only days, but dollars,” added Dr. Manuel.

“900,000 Days in Hospital: The annual impact of smoking, alcohol, diet and physical activity on hospital use in Ontario” is being published May 29, 2014.

Canadajournal/Press Releases

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