Road To The Olympic Games

Kreek Speak·Opinion

Small health changes can lead to major benefits

Canadian men could be wealthier and healthier if they curbed spending on things like tobacco and alcohol, lost a few pounds, and invested the money instead, writes Olympic gold medallist Adam Kreek.

Perfect time for Canadian men to get in shape

Canadian men could be wealthier and healthier if we curbed our spending on things like tobacco and alcohol, lost a few pounds, and invested the money instead. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

It's Men's Health Week, and Father's Day is fast approaching. It's the perfect time to share some health-giving, manly tips for my Canadian brothers… and save them some money.

Canadian men could be wealthier and healthier if we curbed our spending on things like tobacco and alcohol, lost a few pounds, and invested the money instead, according to a new report commissioned by the Canadian Men's Health Foundation. In fact, a very unhealthy guy could stand to lose $8.6 million over his lifetime.

All men can make small lifestyle changes that lead to big results, benefit their health, and their bank balance. Hopefully you can pick up the odd tip by reading my column here.

Closer look at the big costs

The costs vary substantially depending on the level of consumption or excess weight. To illustrate this point, three hypothetical "Joes" were created:

  • Low-risk Joe, who smokes five cigarettes per day, consumes one alcoholic drink per day and is six-feet tall, weighing 258 pounds (a body-mass index or BMI of 35), could cost $275,000 over his lifetime. If Joe took this money and, instead of spending it on cigarettes or alcohol, or additional life insurance premiums, invested it between the ages of 30 and 75, the saving increases to $1.7 million.
  • Medium-risk Joe, who smokes 20 cigarettes per day (1 pack), consumes three alcoholic drinks per day and is six-feet tall weighing 295 pounds (a BMI of 40), could cost $628,000 over his lifetime. Invested, the savings go up to $3.2 million.
  • High-risk Joe, who smokes 40 cigarettes per day (2 packs), consumes five alcoholic drinks per day and is six-feet tall weighing 332 pounds (a BMI of 45), could cost $1.1 million over his lifetime. Invested, the savings go up to $8.6 million.

Poor men's health affects Canadian economy

The health consequences associated with tobacco smoking, alcohol use and excess weight in middle-aged men cost the Canadian economy $20.3 billion annually in treatment costs, disability and premature mortality.

Years lost

Cigarette smoking, alcohol use and excess weight all result in a shortened life. The life expectancy of the typical Canadian male is 79 years. On average, smoking cigarettes will cost you 10 years of life, drinking alcohol will cost you 7.9 years, and being obese will cost you 5.8 years.

Smoking tobacco

Smoking just five cigarettes and consuming one alcoholic drink per day can cost an individual $1.5 million. Across Canada, 26.4 per cent of males between the ages of 30 and 64 smoke cigarettes. Over one third of are heavy smokers, meaning that they smoke at least one pack (20 cigarettes) per day.

Alcohol consumption

Over three quarters (75.6 per cent) of Canadian males ages 30-64 also consume alcohol, with 14.8 per cent of males in this age group consuming daily levels of alcohol that would be considered hazardous or harmful to their health.

Excess weight

Canadian males ages 30-64, 66.6 per cent are overweight and obese. Compared to Canadian females ages 30-64, more Canadian males smoke more heavily, drink more heavily and are obese.


About the Author

Adam Kreek

Olympic rower

Adam Kreek was towed to gold in men's eights rowing at the Beijing Olympics mostly due to his incredible teammates. Now a father and working stiff, he aims to inspire adult men to take small measures to improve their health every day. He's a corporate speaker and trainer as well as a champion for the Canadian Men's Health Foundation.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.