Washington, D.C., 6 December 2012 (PAHO/WHO) – Representatives of the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and members of the World Federation of Sporting Goods (WFSGI) and the Sport and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) met this week to discuss potential collaboration in carrying out joint action to promote physical activity and active living in the Americas.
“The region of the Americas is the most obese and least active in terms of physical activity of any WHO region, and we need to join forces to prevent and control the effects of NCDs [non-communicable diseases] such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer,” said Dr. Marcos Espinal, PAHO Area Manager for Disease Prevention and Control, in opening remarks for the December 5 meeting at PAHO headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The meeting was held within the framework of the Pan American Forum for Action on NCDs (PAFNCD), a platform for multisectoral dialog and alliance promotion that was created by PAHO in response to the mandates of its Member States and the United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs (2011), which called for efforts to address the growing epidemic of NCD globally and in the Americas.
Irene Klinger, PAFNCD’s coordinator, noted that promotion of healthy and active lifestyles is one of seven areas of action endorsed by representatives of governments, academia, the scientific community, civil society, and the private sector in support of PAHO/WHO’s regional and global strategies on NCDs.
“No one actor or sector can confront inactivity and its impact on society and development, which is why we need an approach that involves multiple allies and different sectors,” said Klinger.“Raising levels of physical activity in the population has never been more urgent or critical than now—we have a serious problem,” said James Hospedales, PAHO senior advisor on prevention and control of chronic diseases. He said a global goal has been set of increasing physical activity in the population by 10% by the year 2020.
Participants in the meeting agreed on the need for joint action to address and reverse the health consequences of physical inactivity, particularly among children.
WFSGI Secretary General Robbert de Kock said the meeting “helped define joint efforts to carry out and mechanisms for expanding existing efforts.”
Representatives of Nike, Adidas, Advanced Sport, Asics, Ispo, New Balance, Pentland/Speedo, Reebok, Rollerblade USA and Under Armour presented actions their companies are carrying out to promote physical activity, including races, walks, school programs, breast cancer education, and initiatives to promote swimming, self-esteem among children, health work places, and empowerment of athletes, among others.
Caitlin Morris, of Nike, presented the results of a report titled Designed to Move (www.designedtomove.org). “Physical inactivity has become the norm. We have left movement out of our lives,” she said. “People are not moving anymore. In the United States, physical activity has declined 32% in the past 44 years. We have to break the cycle.”