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Government is ignoring ‘nation’s greatest health threat’, claims House of Lords

Olympic health legacyThe government is failing to fulfill its ‘Olympic health legacy’ pledge by neglecting to address the population’s increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

The Olympic promise was to create a ‘healthier, happier, more active nation’ but, as the chairman of the House of Lords Science and technology Committee, Lord Krebs said: “Government is failing to act in a consistent way to ensure that the Olympics help us tackle one of our greatest health threats – sedentary lifestyles.”

There is little doubt that physical inactivity is a serious health risk in the UK. Last month a study published in the Lancet concluded that physical inactivity caused 6-10% of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer cases globally. It could also be accounted for 9% of all premature deaths.

Experts claim that sedentary lifestyles are as serious a risk to health and longevity as smoking is.

63.3% of Britons fail to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines, making us one of the laziest countries in the world.

Now health campaigners ask – why, when the evidence is so clear, is the government failing to promote physical activity as a prevention and treatment for chronic disease?

Sports and exercise medicine consultant Dr Richard Weiler believes part of the reason is that British medical schools do not place enough emphasis on the health benefits of physical activity. In fact, his research shows that a worrying 44% of medical schools do not even teach trainee doctors the national exercise guidelines.

“There is an urgent need for physical activity teaching to have dedicated time at medical schools, to equip tomorrow’s doctors with the basic knowledge, confidence and skills to promote physical activity,” says Weiler.

The Lords committee has identified inadequate medical training and lack of awareness as key barriers preventing the treatment of health problems via physical activity.

However, reports say improvements are already on their way. Tennis champion Andrew Murrey, recently appointed ‘Physical Activity Champion’ for the Scottish government, claims they have ‘really grasped the importance of the issue’ and are taking steps to promote physical activity as a way of increasing longevity and reducing the development of chronic disease.

Physical inactivity can cause a huge range of health problems, one of the most prevalent being back pain. To discover more about the wide range of treatments available to ease symptoms of physical inactivity, please visit Therapy Topics.

To read the full article, please visit the Guardian website.

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Zoe Thomas

Written by Zoe Thomas

Written by Zoe Thomas

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