May 13, 2021
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Physical inactivity is ‘significant global health burden’

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Worldwide, 7.2% of deaths from all causes and 7.6% of deaths from CVD were attributable to physical inactivity, according to recent data.

The report also showed that physical inactivity was attributable to 8.1% of dementia cases and 1.6% of hypertension cases.

According to researchers, 7.2% of deaths from all causes were linked to physical inactivity.
Katzmarzyk PT, et al. Br J Sports Med. 2021;doi:10.1136/bjsports-2020-103640.

Previous research has estimated that physical inactivity resulted in 6% to 10% of cases of premature mortality, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer worldwide, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, PhD, chair of pediatric obesity and diabetes at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, and colleagues wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“However, in the last decade, a large volume of research has clearly shown that physical inactivity impacts additional noncommunicable diseases beyond these,” the researchers wrote.

They analyzed data from meta-analyses and pooled analyses that were published from 2012 to 2020 to estimate the population attributable risk (PAR) associated with physical inactivity among people living in 168 countries.

In addition to the links between physical inactivity and all-cause mortality, CVD-related mortality, dementia and hypertension, the researchers reported a PAR of 7.2% for depression, 5% for coronary heart disease, 5% for stroke, 4.5% for type 2 diabetes, 2.2% for bladder cancer, 2.8% for breast cancer, 2.9% for colon cancer, 2.8% for endometrial cancer, 7.2% for esophageal cancer, 6.9% for gastric cancer and 7.2% for renal cancer.

The highest noncommunicable disease burden from physical inactivity was observed in Latin American and Caribbean countries and high-income Western and Asia Pacific countries, according to Katzmarzyk and colleagues. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and East and Southeast Asia had the lowest noncommunicable disease burden linked to physical inactivity.

To provide perspective, the researchers noted that estimated global PAR caused by tobacco is 8.7% and for sugar-sweetened beverages is 1.2%. Obesity’s PAR is 10% for European women, 11% for European men and between 3% and 15% for Americans.

“The results here clearly demonstrate that physical inactivity is responsible for a significant global health burden,” Katmaryzk and colleagues wrote.

Public health goals like WHO’s Global Action Plan on Physical Activity for 2018 to 2030 “will require international collaboration” to be accomplished, the researchers wrote.