Would you like fries with that?

No, you haven’t accidentally clicked on the Health and Wellness blog. This is the It’s the Economy, Stupid blog. However, given recently published statistics on our health in Greater Moncton, I thought it would be a good time to show the linkages between the economy and health. The South-East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) -the folks that run the Moncton Hospital and a whole host of other health care services – announced yesterday that they are embarking on a public strategic planning process for the next five years. As part of this process, they released a wide variety of health-related statistics.

Now most of us would characterize Greater Moncton as a vibrant, energetic and active community. It turns out, we are among the most obese urban areas in Canada and we are below average for most of the major health indicators. And the kicker, we are dead last in New Brunswick among the eight health regions for physical activity. We are competing with Nunavut for the most inactive population in Canada.

This can have a profound long term impact on our economy. Not only does poor health contribute to high health care costs (I have talked about the drain of health care costs on the economy elsewhere), it can lead to poor mental health, poor self-esteem and be an overall drag on the community’s economic, cultural and social development.

In the past 15 years, the Greater Moncton economy has seen a major shift in the type of jobs that we do. We have gone from an economy dominated by heavy lifting, manually active jobs to sedentary desk jobs (call centres, Information technology, services). So for all of us that work at desks all day, it’s time to take our health more seriously. It’s time to go for the salad instead of the superfries. It’s time to go to the gym instead of watching TV. And as for the moniker of being the heaviest drinkers, I’ll think all tackle that some other time 🙂

PS – SERHA is asking the public to participate in their strategic planning process. Go to their site to fill out a questionnaire and tell them how you think we can address the health care challenges in our region.