Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a major burden worldwide. In 2012, The Lancet published its first Series on physical activity, which increased awareness of the importance of physical activity in the prevention of NCDs, with a special emphasis on low-income and middle-income countries. But there is still a long way to go before physical activity is an equal partner in recommended preventive strategies for NCDs—from the government level down to the physician’s practice.
The Lancet now publishes the 2016 Series on physical activity with four papers that advance existing knowledge and extend the field of physical activity in public health in several important areas.
The paper by James Sallis and colleagues provides updated information on global surveillance priorities, effective national health promotion strategies, and new areas of epidemiological research relating physical activity to improvements in brain health and cognitive function. They conclude that although more countries today have implemented physical activity surveillance systems and national strategies for promotion of physical activity, population physical activity levels have not increased.
To that end, the Series paper by Rodrigo Reis and colleagues shows that although many physical activity interventions have tremendous potential for the prevention of NCDs, public health campaigns have struggled to implement these interventions on a large scale. Indeed, Reis and colleagues’ review highlights that many interventions are effective in highly controlled research settings, but that to achieve successful scaling-up such interventions must be embedded within multiple sectors of a community for their health effects to be sustained.
The Series paper by Ding Ding and colleagues addresses the economic burden of physical inactivity worldwide in a global analysis of major non-communicable diseases. The authors report that physical inactivity cost global health-care systems about INT$53·8 billion worldwide in 2013. While we support the use of this conservative approach by Ding and colleagues, it is important to underline that the economic burden of physical inactivity could be much greater. This 2016 Lancet Series on physical activity highlights a large unused potential of physical activity in the global prevention of NCDs, including dementia.
From: The Lancet. Read full article and other reports here.