The high prevalence and consequences of physical inactivity should be recognized as a global pandemic, according to the fifth and final paper in The Lancet series on physical activity published last week. The article outlines key strategies and resources needed to make physical activity a global public health priority.
"Although regular physical activity is critical for weight control, it is equally or more important for lowering risk of many different chronic diseases such as heart disease, some cancers, osteoporosis, and diabetes," said lead author Harold W. Kohl, III, PhD, professor of epidemiology at The University of Texas School of Public Health.
In the paper, the researchers call on ministries of health to "Make physical activity an integral part of an overall disease prevention and health promotion model, including screening for physical inactivity, counseling about physical activity in prevention and disease treatment and management strategies as well as increased investment in comprehensive physical activity promotion policies, action plans, and implementation programs."
According to Kohl, research on physical activity needs to be its own priority within public health research of noncommunicable diseases. "The response to physical inactivity has been incomplete, unfocused, understaffed, and underfunded compared with other risk factors for non-communicable diseases," he said. "This has put physical activity in reverse gear compared with population trends and advances in tobacco and alcohol control and diet."
Speaking to members of the National Physical Activity Plan on Friday, Chair Russell Pate, PhD, said, "The Lancet has labeled physical inactivity a global pandemic, and it has documented the enormity of the human and financial costs associated with this public health crisis. Physical inactivity kills, and it is high time we respond to physical inactivity as the lethal force it is." APTA is a member of the National Physical Activity Plan Coordinating Committee.
Other papers in the series address why some people are more physically active than others and how megatrends in information and communication technology and transportation directly and indirectly affect levels of physical activity across countries of low, middle, and high income. Researchers also describe physical activity levels of adults worldwide and review physical activity interventions.