WHO: Start moving, stop smoking

  • 17/09/2015

The World Health Organisation has launched strategies aimed at getting Europeans to start moving and stop smoking over the next decade to defuse what it terms the ticking time-bomb of sedentary lifestyles.

"Health systems across the region (Europe) risk being crippled by people suffering the effects of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour," Doctor Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a statement issued on Wednesday (local time) at talks in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

"To address this, we have developed the first physical activity strategy for the WHO European Region 2016-2025."

"Rates of overweight and obesity are rising dramatically" in 46 of the 53 countries in its European region, the WHO noted in the same statement.

"More than 50 per cent of adults are overweight or obese; in several of those countries, the rate in the adult population is close to 70 per cent," the statement added.

"In some countries, more than 40 per cent of seven and eight-year-old boys are overweight, and more than 20 per cent are obese," it warned.

As part of the new strategy, the WHO's 53 European member have agreed to ensure their populations have equal and safe access to areas and infrastructure designed for exercise regardless of "gender, age, income, education, ethnicity or disability".

Ministers of health from the WHO's 53 European members on Wednesday also signed up to an unprecedented roadmap to make "tobacco a thing of the past" over the next decade by enforcing a series of anti-tobacco measures.

They include enforcing smoking bans, especially in children's environments, effectively banning tobacco advertising, curbing tobacco product placement in entertainment and "increasing public awareness through educational initiatives to prevent young people from starting to smoke."