Health economics

19 December 2022

Profiles of Public Health Systems in Canada: Alberta

As Canada deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest public health challenges of our time, the need to strengthen public health systems has never been greater. Strong public health (PH) systems are vital to ensuring health system sustainability, improving population health and health equity, and preparing for and responding to current and future crises. There are considerable variations across provinces and territories in how public health is organized, governed and financed, as well as in how public health systems have been reformed and restructured in recent years. This report builds upon prior reports and describes Alberta’s public health system prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, including its organization, governance, financing, and workforce. It is part of a series of 13 public health system profiles1 that provide foundational knowledge on the similarities and differences in the structures of public health systems across province…

22 April 2022

Wellbeing Budgeting: A Critical Public Health Perspective

In New Zealand, Wales, Scotland, and Finland, among other countries, wellbeing approaches to policy have become a growing trend over the past decade. Attention to the wellbeing and quality of life of the population has the potential to act on upstream determinants of health and, thus, to be a significant boon for healthy public policy. The National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy (NCCHPP) seeks to explore the significance of this policy turn. In this briefing note, we invite noted public health scholar, Lindsay McLaren, to assess how wellbeing approaches to policy align with public health scholarship and practice and whether there is a role for public health in this work. Dr. McLaren offers a critical perspective on the state of public health and on the opportunities and risks of embracing wellbeing budgeting as a ‘potentially radical approach to realizing some of the core values and goals’ of public health. We invite you to read her contribution bel…
7 June 2016

Obesity and Overweight: What Are the Economic Impacts in Québec?

Analyses of the economic burdens related to various health issues affecting a population makes it possible to compare their relative significance. By documenting the costs linked to the use of health services and to productivity losses among individuals with health issues, these studies are invaluable to the decision makers who determine health priorities. 

Studies on the economic burden of obesity and overweight carried out in Canada and other industrialized countries, clearly demonstrate that the increased incidence of overweight generates additional costs in terms of the use of health services, and impacts the economic health of these societies. 

This TOPO provides an estimate of the economic consequences of obesity and overweight in Québec. The Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) has studied the evidence on this issue from an economic perspective. In it, we describe the behaviour of Québec adults. This is an overview of the three publication…

16 February 2015

The Economic Consequences Associated With Obesity and Overweight in Québec: Costs Tied to Hospitalization and Medical Consultations

Over the past 40 years, industrialized countries have undergone social and economic changes that have increased the risk of developing chronic diseases within the population. The increasingly sedentary nature of work, a decrease in physical activity due to reliance on automobiles and to urban sprawl and more sedentary recreational activities have all contributed to an ongoing reduction in levels of physical activity.

To this can be added the major changes the food system has undergone during the same period. The food system is now characterized by the industrialization of agricultural production, increased caloric availability and lower prices for food with low nutritional value. In addition, food distribution and marketing practices have made food continually available in our environments. In this type of environment, which does little to promote healthy eating and the adoption of a physically active lifestyle, chronic diseases and obesity increased.


10 July 2014

An Introduction to the Ethical Implications of Economic Evaluations for Healthy Public Policy

Public health actors analyzing policy options usually try to assess and compare the expected effects of policies on the health of the population. They can take on neutral brokering roles, simply providing the best available information to decision makers, or they can also engage in advocacy-related analysis. Whatever their role, those looking at policy options often try to answer — or are asked by others to answer — questions such as the following: Which option will result in broader social benefits, including but not restricted to health benefits? Which option will be less costly, financially, socially, and otherwise? Who will benefit and who will pay for each option, and when will these benefits and costs accrue? Which policy option will provide “the biggest bang for the buck”?

11 March 2014

The economic impact of obesity and overweight

Obesity and overweight are risk factors linked to the appearance of a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, obesity also has an economic impact. Indeed, studies that have quantified the economic burden of obesity in Canada and abroad observe that the problem engenders significant costs for society. Such costs are not confined to those stemming from broader recourse to health services. Costs related to absenteeism, disability and other productivity losses that obesity engenders are at least as high as costs related to health care. Accordingly, studies of the economic burden reveal that the rise in overweight and obesity is not a source of concern solely for interveners working in the health field. Indeed, health problems linked to obesity affect several sectors of the economy and the resulting economic burden. Investing in the prevention of obesity thus offers benefits not only for the health of the population but also for Québec's economic…

13 June 2012

Taxation of sweetened beverages: An economical perspective

The taxation of food products, such as sweetened beverages, is one method that is being considered to change eating behaviours and consequently help improve the populations' health. However, very few empirical studies have been conducted on the use of fiscal measures to prevent obesity and chronic diseases. While most experts recognize the need to take action to reduce the consumption of sweetened beverages in Québec, many wonder if taxation is an interesting tool to reach this goal. Behavioral economics is a useful approach to critically study the implementation of this type of measure. It is from this angle that TOPO's editorial team chose to expose a few economic principles that may help public health practitioners get a clearer picture of the issue at hand.

The goal of this TOPO is not to take a stand on taxation, but, from a public health perspective, to include economic considerations in the public health reflection on the relevance of imposing a tax on s…

7 November 2011

The Influence of Economy-Based Agri-Food Policies on Diet and Weight: Synthesis Report

Obesity's increasing prevalence is of concern because of its impacts on the population health and its associated costs. To promote healthy public policies, this scientific advisory documents the influence of economy-based agri-food policies that can affect the population's diet and weight. To this end, the following economic measures are reviewed: agricultural subsidies, trade policies, agricultural research and development programs, agricultural promotion programs, agricultural initiatives to supply institutions such as agricultural surplus and Farm-to-School programs and, lastly, price interventions.

In light of the information compiled, this scientific advisory identifies three promising avenues for interventions to guide agri-food policies:

  • Increase the number of farmer's market offering fruits and vegetables, especially in disadvantaged areas
  • Develop processing policies that correspond to public health objectives
  • Develop school programs…