Britain is urging people of all ages to exercise more in the fight to stave off obesity and diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Britain is urging people of all ages to exercise more in the fight to stave off obesity and diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The government’s Chief Medical Officer, Liam Donaldson, said in a report on Thursday that adults should do 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week and children and young people should do up to 60 minutes. “People need to stay active over the whole of their lives if they are to stave off the threat of obesity,” he said in the report “At Least Five A Week.” “We are moving less than our parents and grandparents. This is a major risk factor for the nation’s health. We need to combat the ‘couch potato’ culture and this means building moderate everyday physical activity into our lives.” The report is part of a public consultation exercise and will be considered by ministers when they draw up a White Paper on Public Health. Childhood obesity has risen dramatically in most countries in Europe and in the United States due to a decrease in physical activity and changes in eating habits. The latest statistics revealed over a fifth of men and women 16 years or older in England were classified as obese. Health experts say rates could soar if strategies are not developed to tackle the problem. The campaign to encourage more people to exercise also aims to reduce the load on Britain’s beleaguered National Health Service and cut the cost incurred by the government. The report said the cost of inactivity, from the direct cost of treatment and the indirect cost of sickness leave, was estimated at 8.2 billion pounds annually. “Adults who are physically active reduce their risk of developing major chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, by up to 50 percent and the risk of early death by about 20-30 percent,” it added. (Source: Reuters Health News: May 2004)