MOH News
WHO: “30% of the World's Population Do Not Engage in Physical Activity”
25 February 2014
On Monday, the High-Level Regional Forum on a Life-Course Approach to Promoting Physical Activity was held in Dubai, UAE. The senior officials representing a hot of ministries discussed, in the course of two days, the “physical inactivity” problem, being a major risk factor threatening to raise the incidence of non-communicable (alternatively known as non-infectious or non-transmissible) diseases, such as heart diseases, cancerous diseases, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, collectively regarded as the cause of 60% of the world's deaths every year.  
This announcement was made by the MOH Spokesman, Dr. Khaled bin Mohamed Marghalani, who indicated that the senior officials of the ministries of health, education, youth, sport, planning and transport in the East Mediterranean countries shed light on the physical inactivity problem, given that 30% of the world's population do not engage in physical activity, even though such a risk factor could be evaded, thus preventing diseases, and enjoying the health benefits to be yielded from moderate exercise.
For his part, the WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Alaa Alwan, in his address before the forum, mentioned that physical inactivity contributes, globally, to up to 27% of diabetes, 30% of ischemic heart disease, and 21% - 25% of breast and colon cancers.
He added that physical inactivity ranks fourth among the most common causes of death all over the world. In the East Mediterranean Region, 219.000 deaths annually are attributed to physical inactivity.
By physical activity, according to the WHO, is not meant only exercising and violent sports; as a matter of fact, any activity involving motion would work too, including recreational activities, cycling and walking. Physical inactivity is one of four major risk factors, the others being tobacco-use, alcohol, and unhealthy diet.
The WHO added that everybody has the right to walk freely; that is a right not to be denied. People have also the right to enjoy their time at convenient places where they can exercise and engage in recreational activities, regardless of their age or gender.
Meanwhile, the WHO called upon the member states and all participants to usher in close cooperation involving the various sectors to prepare general and joint national plans aiming at promoting the physical activity at each country, as part of the applied health policies and strategies. Besides, planning sectors should pay closer attention to designing streets and parks where everyone can safely walk and exercise in. Educational sectors, for their part, are expected to include physical activity and physical education in the curricula as an essential subject. Furthermore, the WHO called for the availability of exercising places at all workplaces, in order for workers to exercise during work time.
It is worth mentioning, the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) participated in the forum, represented by the Undersecretary for Therapeutic Services, Dr. Abdulaziz al-Humeidi, the Advisor to the Minister and Supervisor General of Relations, Media and Health Awareness, Dr. Khaled bin Mohamed Marghalani, and the Director of the Anti-obesity Program, Dr. Shaker Abdulaziz al-Emari.

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