Hot news from the Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA)! Today sees the launch of ‘country cards’, analysing how 131 nations are doing on physical activity. And from those 131, the UK is fourth best .....
..... you saw this coming, didn’t you: the UK is fourth best in measuring physical activity, the work of our academics and policy specialists in understanding it, and the collation of the evidence. Not in terms of actually being active, obviously. Not in terms of policies to promote active living, or environments that support it.
In fact, GoPA has found that physical inactivity accounts for between 1% and 19% of deaths, depending which country you live in, and the UK is right up at the top of that scale, with 16.9%.
Double the global average.
Isn’t that shameful?
Why is it the case?
Well, one reason is clearly that UK policy makers simply are not reading all the world's-fourth-best evidence we are showing them.
Just days ago, the UK government’s spending review set a five year vision of spending less on public health, less on active travel, and less on non-competitive sport. Instead, it commits more on armaments, a politically-minded boost to healthcare for when people have become sick as a result of inactive lives, a push for Olympic medals in Rio of course, and far too much on roads – to make sedentary travel easier.
You don't need to read the GoPA country cards; unless of course you are a specialist in policy and evidence. But maybe you could strong-arm your MP to take a look. And then they might vote to invest in healthy, activity-friendly environments across the UK, to get our inactivity-related death toll down to, say, the level of Brazil – almost a quarter less than ours.
And let’s end on a positive note. We are fourth best at understanding physical activity and what needs to be done. That’s why we have a mass of good guidance. It’s certainly not too late to implement the recommendations of NICE, RIBA, the BMA, Sport England, the whole Public Health profession and so many others. Let’s make ourselves fourth best at providing for active living, too! Is fourth such a stretch?