Pre-Olympic call for global action on physical inactivity

July 18, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- The global issue of physical inactivity should be recognised as pandemic, according to a research paper published today in the prestigious Lancet medical journal and launched in a special pre-Olympics event in London.

Professor Fiona Bull, Director of UWA's Centre for the Built Environment and Health, and co-author of the first of a series of five papers on published in the Lancet's special edition issue, said much work needed to be done to address physical inactivity as a public health issue.

The paper, 'Global : surveillance, progress, pitfalls and prospects' presents new on current levels of physical activity and trends worldwide, alongside analyses that quantify the global impact of physical inactivity on the world's major non-communicable diseases.

The Lancet series also reviews why some people are active and why they are not, evidence-based strategies for effective , and how a multi-sector and systems-wide approach that goes way beyond health is critical to increase population levels of activity worldwide. 

Worldwide, around a third of adults (about 1.5 billion people) and four out of five adolescents are failing to do recommended amounts of physical activity, placing them at 20-30 per cent greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

"Societal trends are leading to less not more activity than previously, [and] with few exceptions, health professionals have been unable to mobilise governments and populations to take physical inactivity sufficiently seriously as a public health issue," Lead author Dr Pedro C Hallal, from the Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil said.

In the fifth paper, The of physical activity - a call for global action, Dr Harold W Kohl, from The University of Texas Health Sciences Center, said the role of physical inactivity continued to be undervalued despite more than 60 years' evidence of its protective effects and the alarming cost burden associated with current levels of physical inactivity worldwide.

This Lancet series highlights an incomplete and unfocused response to physical inactivity in most countries, which has often been understaffed and underfunded, compared to other risk factors for non-communicable diseases.

Professor Bull, a leading expert and advisor to the World Health Organisation, described as an issue that crossed many sectors and one that required collaboration, coordination and communication with many partners, including city and community planners, transport engineers, school authorities, recreation and parks officials, and the media.

She described Western Australia's now-defunct ‘Physical Activity Taskforce' as a good example that provided the cross-government coordination needed to increase participation in activity.

"The Taskforce was a leading role model on how governments need to act together across sectors in a coordinated way to implement strategies to address physical activity at sufficient scale to support lifestyle changes in the whole community.

"The recent dismantling of the Taskforce in Western Australia is a tragedy and we will pay for this decision in WA coming years," Professor Bull said.

The key authors of the Lancet papers argue for capacity building to be prioritised across sectors of influence, including health, transport, sport, education and business.  This was agreed to be particularly in countries with low-to-middle incomes where rapid economic and social changes are likely to reduce the domestic, work and transport-related physical activity demands of daily life.

Explore further: Physical inactivity kills 5 million a year: report

Related Stories

Physical inactivity kills 5 million a year: report

July 18, 2012
A third of the world's adults are physically inactive, and the couch potato lifestyle kills about five million people every year, experts said in the medical journal The Lancet on Wednesday.

More than 40 percent of patients with RA are inactive

April 3, 2012
(HealthDay) -- More than 40 percent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis are inactive, with lack of motivation and lack of belief in physical activity strongly related to inactivity, according to a study published in the ...

News reporting of physical activity sends socially skewed message

July 28, 2011
A new study of television news reporting reveals the media neglect key risks of inactivity and fail to focus attention on the responsibilities of employers and government to foster greater physical activity among Australians.

2 in 5 adults with rheumatoid arthritis are physically inactive

January 26, 2012
A new study, funded by a grant from the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), found that two in five adults (42%) with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were inactive. Taking measures to ...

Recommended for you

Motorcycle crashes cause five times as many deaths as car accidents, six times the health costs

November 20, 2017
Motorcycle accidents are costly in terms of lives and health care costs. Compared with car accidents, motorcycle accidents cause 3 times the injuries, 6 times the medical costs and 5 times the deaths, found new research in ...

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.