WHO & ONOC Join Efforts to Motivate Physical Activity

Joint news release, WHO and Oceania National Olympic Committee

16 April, 2014 – History is repeating itself. In the late 1800s, de Coubertin worried that youth in his native France were turning away from physical activity. As such, the Olympic Movement was born.

Today, the same problem is being seen in the growing rate of youth obesity through the world. Recommendation #51 from the IOC Session in Copenhagen 2009 states that, “everyone involved in the Olympic Movement must become more aware of the fundamental importance of physical activity and sport for a healthy life style, not least in the growing battle against obesity, and must reach out to parents and schools as part of a strategy to counter the rising inactivity of young people”.

Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Globally, 6% of deaths are attributed to physical inactivity. Physical inactivity is the main cause for approximately 21-25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes and 30% of ischaemic heart disease burden. Increasing levels of physical inactivity are seen worldwide, in high-income countries as well as low- and middle-income countries.

NCDs are already a major health challenge in the Pacific. In nine out of twelve Pacific countries, NCDs account for 70% or more of all deaths. NCDs are already the leading cause of death in twelve Pacific Islands Countries.

“All sectors and all levels within governments, international partners, civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector have vital roles to play in shaping healthy environments and contributing to the promotion of physical activity, said Dr. Liu Yunguo, WHO Representative/Director Pacific Technical Support.

As per the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter, the goal of Olympics is to place sport everywhere at the service of the harmonious development of mankind, and therefore should mobilize its constituents to add to the global effort against the increase of NCD.

The WHO Western Pacific Office with ONOC aims to mobilize and work with key stakeholders at regional, national and country levels. The memorandum of understanding between WHO and ONOC, signed today, is intended to:

  • raise awareness of the serious health consequences of inactivity in young people;
  • to provide recommendations on the prevention and control of NCD; and
  • to motivate sport organizations and governments to collaborate in promoting health and sports in particular for children.

For more information contact:

Dr Temo Waqanivalu,
Coordinator (Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) and Health Promotion)
Division of Pacific Technical Support
World Health Organization South Pacific Office
Level 4 Provident Plaza One, Downtown Boulevard
33 Ellery Street, PO Box 113, Suva, Fiji.
Ph: 679-323 4100 / 323 4127(Dir)
Fax: 679-323 4166
Email: waqanivalut@wpro.who.int