Economic case for health promotion

Office worker lifting weights

While the cost effectiveness of some health interventions may take decades to emerge – for example, measures to tackle obesity through behaviour change – others can be cost effective in the short term, for instance initiatives to protect mental health in the workplace.

This is one of the findings of a policy summary published by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO paper addresses some of the risk factors for health, including tobacco and alcohol consumption, the effect of dietary behaviour and patterns of physical activity, exposure to environmental harm, and risks to mental health and wellbeing.

It highlights the issue of equity – for example, if the uptake of an intervention, be it a public health or workplace one, is higher in more affluent groups, one unintended consequence in interventions could be a widening of health inequalities.

Merkur S et al (2013). Promoting health, preventing disease: is there an economic case? World Health Organisation.

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