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Investments that Work for Physical Activity

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Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of deaths due to non-communicable disease (NCDs) worldwide - heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancers - and each year contributes to over three million preventable deaths.1 Physical inactivity is related (directly and indirectly) to the other leading risk factors for NCDs such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high glucose levels; it underpins the recent striking increases in childhood and adult obesity, not only in developed countries but also in many developing countries. Substantial scientific evidence supports the importance of physical inactivity as a risk factor for NCD independent of poor diet, smoking and alcohol misuse.

Physical activity has comprehensive health benefits across the lifespan: It promotes healthy growth and development in children and young people, helps to prevent unhealthy mid-life weight gain, and is important for healthy ageing, improving and maintaining quality of life and independence in older adults. The most recent global estimates indicate that 60% of the world population are exposed to health risks due to inactivity.2 Increasing population-wide participation in physical activity is a major health priority in most high and middle income countries and is a rapidly-emerging priority in lower income countries experiencing rapid social and economic transitions.

Whole-of-community approaches where people live, work and recreate have the opportunity to mobilize large numbers of people.

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The Toronto Charter foi Physical Activity: A Globa Call to Action (May 2010 outlines the direct health benefits and co benefits of investing in policies and programs to increase levels of physical activity.3 Already translated into 11 languages, the Toronto Charter makes a strong case for increased action and greater investment on physical activity as part of a comprehensive approach to NCD prevention. The Charter was developed with extensive world-wide stakeholder consultation and calls for action in four key …

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