Leading international experts develop Toronto Charter to call for greater
worldwide investment in physical activity

TORONTO, May 7 /CNW/ - Delegates at the 3rd International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health (ICPAPH) in Toronto this week call for a world-wide increase in the priority given to physical activity, and highlight the many benefits that would flow to more physically active societies.

Citing the growing importance of sedentary lifestyles in driving increased global disease burden, the Toronto ICPAPH delegates are ready to launch the Toronto Charter for Physical Activity, which calls for all countries to strive for greater political, and private sector commitment, and community action to achieve physical activity for all.

International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) President, Professor Harold Kohl, says new data from the World Health Organization shows that physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for non-communicable (chronic) diseases worldwide and causes more than two million preventable deaths across the world each year - more than those caused by obesity.

"The health of individuals and populations around the world can be assisted by investments in physical activity programs, facilities and policies and services that keep people well," says Professor Kohl.

Physical activity can potentially prevent two million avoidable deaths globally each year from major diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers and depression.

Professor Kohl said investments in sport and recreation also make an important contribution to the social fabric of communities.

Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, stated that the benefits of regular physical activity are extensive. "Countries that invest in physical activity by promoting walking, cycling and public transport systems are not only improving the health of their citizens, they are achieving important environmental and sustainability gains. These are vital issues in rapidly urbanising and developed countries," said Dr. Butler-Jones.

ISPAH Advocacy Council Chair, Professor Fiona Bull, says the Toronto Charter for Physical Activity is a global call to action. It encourages all stakeholders, particularly those in education, transport and urban planners to play a role in ensuring greater efforts are made to secure and support everyone having the opportunity for an active lifestyle, and thus gaining from the multiple benefits of physical activity.

"Increased physical activity levels are critical for global health improvements and can not be accomplished by any one government, organization or company alone," says Nikos Koumettis, President of Coca-Cola Canada, the major private sector partner. "The private sector is critical to helping solve this problem and Coca-Cola is pleased to support the Charter."

The Toronto Charter calls for all countries to implement National Action Plans that make physical activity a health and social priority. These plans should emphasise partnerships across health, education, transportation, planning and sport to ensure a 'whole-community' approach. Such partnerships would lead to strong programs in places where people live, work and are educated.

The Toronto Charter for Physical Activity will be officially launched at the close of the ICPAPH conference this Saturday, May 8.

    About the Toronto Charter for Physical Activity

For over a year, the Charter writing team has worked to draft an initial version of the Charter and has received feedback from a group of respected scholars and policy-makers from around the world. Comments have also been received from over 450 colleagues from 53 countries through the on-line consultation. For more information about the Toronto Charter for Physical Activity, please visit http://icpaph2010.org/.

    About the International Society for Physical Activity and Health

The International Society for Physical Activity and Health is an international professional society of individual members who are interested in advancing the science and practice of physical activity and health. For more information on the International Society for Physical Activity and Health, please visit http://www.ispah.org.


For further information: For further information: Dr Art Quinney Spokesperson and Member: Board of Directors, 3rd International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health, (780) 964-2300, Art.quinney@ualberta.ca; Julie Holroyde, Hill & Knowlton, (416) 413-4625, Julie.holroyde@hillandknowlton.ca

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