Although it may not seem directly related to the economy, the levels of non-communicable disease prevalence in China are, in fact, hurting the Chinese economic health along with physical health.
Dr. Schwartländer, World Health Organization’s China representative, explained that the lack of exercise and high prevalence of smoking is leading to high rates of disease amongst the Chinese population. As of right now, little policy exists to help with these problems.
Dr. Schwartlander says that health complications resulting from smoking and lack of exercise will have cost China $500 billion for the decade ending 2015. The most interesting and shocking statistic he provides in the WSJ article is that reducing cardiovascular disease rates by only 1% per yearly 204o would save $10.7 trillion.
Many of the problems controlling these levels relate to the every-increasing speed of urbanization in China. This is particularly poignant considering the book we just finished on China’s urban boom. As the population moves to cities and ages, the level and concentration of disease increases due to the sedentary lifestyles.
Today, China has the world’s largest population of diabetics.
While the government could certainly implement some new policies to encourage healthier lifestyles, less smoking, etc, ultimately the individual is in control of his or her own health and lifestyle. Yet, the mass movement into the country’s cities has been shown to augment and perpetuate these problems.