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Global perspectives on inactivity and health

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Last week Bangkok hosted over 1,000 international delegates for the 6th International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health.

The Congress marked a key milestone in bringing the International Society of Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) biennial congress to Asia for the first time and providing a global forum for collaboration and partnerships on physical activity and public health.

So many of the presentations and discussions at the conference were inspirational and really demonstrated the evidence for physical activity to fundamentally tackle the global burden of non-communicable disease as well as make a tangible impact on wider social issues like education, violence and crime and employment and help reduce the growing burden of pollution and greenhouse gases.

The conference launched the 2nd Global Matrix report card for physical activity of children and youth.

The report cards provide an international assessment of country level progress against nine common indicators (Overall Physical Activity, Organised Sport Participation, Active Play, Active Transportation, Sedentary Behaviour, Family and Peers, School, Community and the Built Environment, and Government Strategies and Investments).

All report cards were generated through a standardised grading framework (from A = Excellent, to F = Failing).

England’s score card (D) reflected that we are still on a journey to improve physical activity across the life course and it reinforces the call for action around children’s physical activity set out in Childhood Obesity: A Plan for Action.

Some of the highlights included a fantastic session on active places which demonstrated the clear evidence that when creating active environments it is important to consider how they can have positive impact on not just health but also on environmental stability and economic resilience.

This was further reinforced in the keynote by Dr Lloyd Wright, Senior Transport Specialist from the Asian Development Bank.

He demonstrated, with practical examples from Korea, Pakistan, Philippines and China, how integration of active travel into public transport initiatives can achieve sustainable mobility, increased tourist and economic viability and meet economic investment criteria.

One of the other inspirational sessions was from Prof Kevin Patrick, who talked about the potential to use technology more effectively  to drive behaviour change. This resonated strongly with the thinking from the Public Health Futurology session at PHE’s 2016 conference earlier this year.

Almost everything that can be plugged in is collecting data and most of this data remains ‘dark data’ which hasn’t been used. The Precision Medicine and Health Data Exploration project and network of contributors is at the forefront of some of the thinking and research in this space.

They will be relaunching Open Paths in December, which is an app that allows people to voluntarily contribute the data from their phones, providing consent on a question by question basis to researchers.

I attended the conference to present a poster on our Moving Professionals programme of work which was incredibly positively received, and take part in a session on Promoting Physical Activity through Sport: Challenges and Progress.

In this session I talked about ‘finding the sweet spot between medals and morbidity’- a reflection of the positive relationship between Sport and Public Health, materialised  by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in Sporting Futures and Sport England in Towards an Active Nation.

It was also great to see Emma Adams presenting the evaluation of the CSPN Workplace Challenge in England in this session and their findings of statistically significant impacts on inactivity through the workplace challenge.

We also heard from Kay Thompson from Sport New Zealand on their approach to influencing national policy with evidence and Nick Cavill on the evidence base that Sport England used to develop the Get Active, Get Healthy funding stream for innovation to reduce inactivity.

The conference concluded with the launch of the Bangkok Declaration on Physical Activity for Global Health and Sustainable Development. The Declaration was developed by ISPAH (International Society for Physical Activity and Health) led by Prof Fiona Bull.

The Declaration demonstrates the key sustainable development goals where physical activity can be positively impacted by action to reduce inactivity.

It sets out 6 areas for action at global, Member State, local government and public / private/ NGO organisation level. These align strongly with Everybody Active Every Day and are calling for:

  1. Renewed commitment to, and increased investment in the implementation of policy actions to decrease physical activity across the life course as a contribution to reducing the global burden of NCDs and achieving the 2030 SDGs
  2. Establish national multi-sector engagement and coordination platforms
  3. Develop workforce capabilities
  4. Increase technical assistance and share experience
  5. Strengthen monitoring and surveillance
  6. Support and promote collaboration, research, policy evaluation across researchers and policy makers

PHE will be co-organising the next International Congress 2018, on 15-17th October 2018, with ISPAH, HEPA Europa and Sport England.

In the lead up to 2018 we will continue to work with partners at a national and local level to progress the recommendations made in Everybody Active Every Day , support the implementation of Sporting Futures and collaborate with stakeholders on progress against these new calls for action by Member States in the Bangkok Declaration.

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  1. Comment by Chalchisa Abdeta posted on

    Bravo! It is great ideas, keep it up!!
    We will made active world communities across their life span.