It’s a tough message to get across maybe, but fresh research from the University of Cambridge has found that inactivity could be killing twice as many as obesity.
Inactivity causes around 676,000 deaths a year, while 337,000 were down to carrying too much weight (across Europe).
As the BBC report points out, obesity and inactivity often go hand-in-hand – but not always. Thin, inactive people have a higher risk of health problems while obese people who exercise are in better health than those that don’t.
The in-depth research took 12 years and followed 334,161 Europeans. The findings have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Surprise, surprise, the report advises more people should walk or cycle to work or school.
With obesity alone found to cost the economy £47bn a year you’d be forgiven for wondering just how much more evidence the nation needs – or more precisely policy makers need – before incentives are put in place to encourage more walking and cycling.
Sustrans has jumped on the news – director of health for the charity, Philip Insall, said: “This country cannot afford to continue ignoring the relationship between physically active transport and health.
“Inactive lifestyles are responsible for thousands of premature deaths and incur massive costs for our health system. Enabling people to walk and cycle for their everyday journeys is the tonic for the nation that must be prescribed immediately.
“This research comes as the new Infrastructure Bill is going through Parliament. The Bill presently proposes a huge investment in new roads, making the inactivity problem even worse. It is imperative for the sake of our health that investment in walking and cycling should be a central part to this new legislation."
British Cycling’s campaigns manager, Martin Key, has also added some words: “This is another warning that as a society we need to urgently build activity back into our daily lives so our transport system has to prioritise people who walk or cycle. Our own research shows that if we cycled just one in 10 journeys then we would save 100,000 healthy life years annually through reduced physical activity-related diseases.”