The World Health Organization warns of an increase in chronic diseases by 2030 if people do not start exercising

Photo: Timothy A. Clary (Getty Images)

Photo: Timothy A. Clary (Getty Images)

A new report from the World Health Organization finds that our collective lack of exercise will take a heavy toll in the coming years if nothing changes. The report estimates that there will be nearly half a billion new cases of non-communicable disorders such as heart disease and diabetes due to physical inactivity by 2030. It also finds that many countries are doing little to help people stay active, such as building safe ways to walk. .

The the findings It comes from the World Health Organization’s first global status report on physical activity. It analyzes data from 194 countries on how often people are physically active and the policies that countries have put in place to promote physical activity. As part of the report, the authors also calculated the potential effects on health care systems if people’s exercise level remained the same until 2030. These latest estimates will be published in a forthcoming paper but could be viewed in Prepress From the Lancet released last week.

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Often, more than one factor contributes to heart disease or other noncommunicable disorders (NCD), and only some of these risk factors can be prevented or changed for the better. But many studies have shown That any amount of exercise, regardless of a person’s age, can help people stay healthy. Based on other research, the authors attempted to account for the portion of preventable non-communicable diseases closely associated with a lack of physical activity that may emerge over the next decade, with a particular focus on seven major conditions: heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. , high blood pressure, some cancers, dementia and depression.

Overall, the authors estimated that approximately 500 million new cases of these conditions would occur between 2020 and 2030 worldwide. These cases will also increase about $300 billion in direct medical costs during that time period and about $27 billion annually by 2030. Most of these cases (about 74%) will occur in low- to middle-income countries, but the economic costs will be greater in countries with higher incomes. High income (about 64%).

“This study calls for urgent action by countries to prioritize investments in interventions that reduce the modifiable risk factor,” the authors wrote.

So far, though, most countries seem to be falling short in making these investments. The WHO report found that less than half of countries even have a national physical activity policy. Only 30% of countries report national physical activity guidelines for all age groups. And while most countries have some way of tracking how active adults are, less than 30% do the same for children under the age of 5. COVID-19 pandemic, the report’s authors note.

There are many reasons why people are not as physically active as they should be, and many of them are out of people’s control, such as the type of work and hours they have. But the report also highlights measures that governments have failed to take to encourage a more active lifestyle for the population. Only 40% of countries, for example, have road design standards that make walking and cycling safer.

“We need more countries to scale up policy implementation to support people to be more active through walking, cycling, sports and other physical activities. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said at a press conference. statement Announcing the report. “We hope that countries and partners will use this report to build more vibrant, healthy and equitable societies for all.”

Some of the recommendations made by the World Health Organization to encourage physical activity include more public open spaces, walkable roads and other infrastructure and more sports or gym activities at school. There is also a need to collect better data, as little is known about people’s access to parks and other ways to help people become more active.

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