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Study: Weak Economy Bad For Public Health

This article is more than 10 years old.

A new study is calling for a large-scale public health campaign in Massachusetts to stop unhealthy behaviors that appear to be caused by the weak economy.

Researchers with the New England Healthcare Institute, which did the study, say the recession is forcing Massachusetts residents to make financial decisions that hurt their heath.

The institute's executive director, Valerie Fleishman, said the economy's impact on health behaviors is striking.

"Twenty-five percent of people have canceled their gym memberships in the past six months," Fleishman said. "Thirty-two percent have delayed preventive care or skipped a physician's visit. Forty-two percent are actually buying fewer fruits and vegetables just to save money."

The report calls on a dozen sectors — from schools to employers to doctors — to work together to fight preventable chronic diseases. The study, funded by the Boston Foundation, recommends initiatives such as reimbursing doctors for promoting healthy behaviors, eliminating non-nutritious foods in schools, and ending the sales tax exemption for snack foods.

This program aired on June 30, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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