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World Health Organisation unveils 10-year physical activity strategy

By Jak Phillips    17 Sep 2015
The WHO has resolved to tackle the growing inactivity crisis through a decade-long strategy / Shutterstock.com

The World Health Organisation has sets its sights on overcoming the growing physical inactivity epidemic by outlining a 10-year strategy to get Europeans moving more.

The focus on physical inactivity as a separate issue to obesity marks a significant sea-change in the public health narrative and follows a recent University of Cambridge report that found physical inactivity is killing twice as many Europeans as obesity.

WHO estimates indicate that, in Europe, more than one third of adults and two thirds of adolescents are insufficiently active, significantly increasing the risk of deadly diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and breast and colon cancer. With health systems struggling under the burden of care amid budget cuts, the WHO has resolved to tackle the growing crisis through a decade-long strategy.

Revealed today at the 65th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, in Vilnius, Lithuania, the 2016-2025 plan for action has been endorsed by the ministers of health of the 53 member states of the WHO European Region.

The aim of the strategy is to inspire governments and stakeholders to work towards increasing levels of physical activity through a number of objectives. It acknowledges the need to shift towards preventative healthcare strategies, as was recently advocated by the UK’s Health Select Committee.

"We can drastically reduce the number of people suffering from noncommunicable diseases by increasing physical activity levels and reducing sedentary behaviour," said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe.

"Health systems across the region risk being crippled by people suffering the effects of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour. To address this, we have developed the first physical activity strategy for the WHO European Region 2016–2025.”

The new strategy calls on governments and stakeholders to promote physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour by providing adequate and safe environments exercise. It also urges the provision of equal opportunities for physical activity, regardless of gender, age, income, education, ethnicity or disability; as well as efforts to remove barriers to physical activity.

To read the full strategy – Physical activity strategy for the WHO European Region 2016–2025 –


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