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  • Comments: 0
  • 08 November 2013 00:00
  • in Government
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Government pledges unified fight against physical inactivity pandemic

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The Government has pledged to work alongside the NHS and British businesses to help turn the tide of the UK's inactivity pandemic in order to prevent 37,000 needless deaths a year.

The promise came at the ukactive summit in London where the initial findings from the first ever analysis of all publicly available inactivity data were unveiled. 

The data highlights that a reduction of 1% in inactivity every year for the next five years could save thousands of lives and save taxpayers £1.2 billion - a tax reduction of £44 per household.

The full findings from ukactive will be released at the start of next year with a report analysing levels of inactivity across councils, which will share best practice in tackling the challenges that they face.

The early findings revealing that the most challenged place in the country for inactivity is Manchester - where almost half (40%) of adults are physically inactive, incurring a cost of £84.3 million each year to that local economy. 

This is in comparison in Wokingham, Berkshire where just 20% of adults are inactive.

The data also shows that this is not simply a matter of demographics - people living in different parts of a region but with the same socio-economic status have varying activity levels. 

For example, a quarter of the adult population in Newcastle is inactive compared to 25% in neighbouring Sunderland.

Prime Minster David Cameron has now backed ukactive’s call to embed physical activity the country’s DNA as part of the legacy from London 2012. 

"Turning the tide of inactivity is essential to the health of our nation,” said the Prime Minister. 
"I am delighted to support ukactive and its drive for making sure physical activity becomes part of the DNA of our country.

"Getting more people, more active, more often reinforces our drive to deliver a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

The summit saw ukactive call for all political parties to agree to a cross party, cross Government national strategy with the goal of reducing the population's inactivity within the 2015 election manifestos. 

The organisation also called for councils to have set health and well-being strategies where success is measured by reducing levels of inactivity, a rebalancing local council spending to address physical inactivity as the fourth largest cause of premature death in the UK for everyone to having access to a trained exercise professional in their GP surgery. 

"Turning the tide of inactivity must be a public health priority in its own right - our focus can't be just on the size of our waist, it has to be about the fitness of our heart,” said the Chair of ukactive Fred Turok, who is also the Coalition Government’s advisor on physical activity.

"Reducing inactivity is where we can deliver the biggest public health gains, tackle health inequalities and get the maximum financial return on our investment.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison backed the call.

"We know there are real health benefits to having a more active lifestyle.

"ukactive brings together a broad spectrum of interested groups, with the common aim of getting more people, more active, more often. 

"I look forward to working with ukactive and its member organisations to promote active lifestyles, to increase participation in sport and physical activity and, ultimately, to help people live healthier lives.”
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