A researcher from The University of Western Australia who is Chair of the Global Advocacy Council for Physical Activity launched the world's first charter for physical activity at a recent international conference held in Toronto, Canada and attended by representatives from more than 80 nations.
A passionate advocate for physical activity and its resulting global health, social and environmental benefits, Professor Fiona Bull said the landmark Toronto Charter would be used to underpin national policy, programs and research and help build partnerships for action between sectors, such as education, transport, health and the environment.
"The Charter aims for major improvements in international public health in much the same way as the World Health Organisation's 2003 Convention on Tobacco Control," Professor Bull said.
"It will influence policy-makers around the world and increase their commitment to support programs and create environments that promote physically active lifestyles. The Charter can be used to reinforce current work but, critically, to provide direction and international legitimacy to scaling up our efforts, including in low and middle income countries. Some of the nations contributing to the development of the Charter and signing their support include Bangladesh, Fiji, Hungary, Mongolia, Nigeria, Tonga and Zambia as well as many European and North American countries; and of course Australia.
"Physical activity helps prevent chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancers, which contribute to two-thirds of deaths globally. Walking, cycling and public transport promote health and sustainable development and enables people to meet their neighbours. A physically active population puts less strain on health-care costs."
Professor Bull said about 40 per cent of adult Australians were not meeting recommended levels of physical activity. "We also have the great concern of increasing levels of childhood obesity and an aging, increasingly sedentary population." For more information: The Toronto Charter for Physical Activity: A global call to action at www.globalpa.org.uk
Professor Fiona Bull (Chair: Global Advocacy for (+61 8) 6488 1249 / (+61 4) 07 703 893
Physical Activity, UWA School of Population Health)
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716