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The health effects of physical inactivity are truly a global problem, as physical inactivity is responsible for up to 8% of non-communicable diseases and deaths worldwide. This is the result of a study published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

In high-income countries, physical inactivity has the greater relative impact on non-communicable diseases and deaths (in terms of increased risk for the average person), but it is middle-income countries where physical inactivity affects the most people and the greatest burden on health resources.

Physical inactivity is a known risk factor for premature mortality and various non-communicable diseases, including coronary artery disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers.

The level of physical inactivity increases according to the income levels of the countries, and in 2016 the level of physical inactivity in high-income countries was estimated to be more than double that in low-income countries.

As physical inactivity increases globally and 80% of deaths from non-communicable diseases occur in low- and middle-income countries, the authors set out to estimate the current burden of global non-communicable diseases associated with physical inactivity.

From the scientific literature, they obtained estimates of the effects of physical inactivity on key health outcomes (relative risks) and physical inactivity data for 168 countries in 2016.

These data were used to estimate how much disease could be averted by increased physical activity in each of the 168 countries by calculating the prevalence-based population-related risks (PAR) at the population level for each outcome in each country and compiling the results.

Physical inactivity was defined as less than 150 minutes of moderately intense or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.

The calculations show that the proportion of non-communicable diseases that can be traced back to physical inactivity ranges between 1.6% for high blood pressure and 8.1% for dementia. Population-based population risks based on prevalence increase with the income level of countries and are more than twice as high in high-income countries as in low-income countries.

While the burden per average person is greater in high-income countries, the results show that middle-income countries are more affected overall because of their larger populations. This means that 69% of all deaths and 74% of all deaths from cardiovascular disease-related physical inactivity occur in middle-income countries.

In general, the highest levels of NCDs associated with physical inactivity are in Latin American and Caribbean countries, and high-income countries in the Western and Asia-Pacific regions. The least pollution is found in countries south of the Sahara, Oceania, and East and Southeast Asia.

This is an observational study and as such cannot determine a cause, and the authors point out some limitations. For example, the population-based approach to estimating disease burden outcomes was theoretical, competing risks were not considered, and the relative risks used to determine the impact of physical inactivity on health outcomes were not country-specific.

In 2018, the World Health Assembly adopted the goal of reducing global inactivity by 15% by 2030.

“The global health burden associated with physical inactivity is significant,” the authors conclude. “The public health burden associated with physical inactivity is truly a global issue that requires international collaboration to mobilize change and achieve these public health goals.”

According to the first estimate, physical inactivity cost the world $ 67 billion in 2013

More information:
Physical inactivity and non-communicable disease burden in low, middle and high income countries, British Journal of Sports Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1136 / bjsports-2020-103640 Provided by the British Medical Journal

Quote: Physical inactivity is responsible for up to 8% of non-communicable diseases and deaths worldwide (2021-29 March) reported on March 29, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-03-physical-inactivity- responsible-non-communicable-diseases.html

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