11 August 2010
"Given the significant associated mortality and morbidity, we propose that perhaps physical inactivity should also be considered for recognition as a disease in its own right," said Richard Weiller of Imperial College London.
Obesity is already classed as a disease by the World Health Organisation, he said, adding it was often partially the result of a deeper cause – not doing enough exercise.
"Money is pumped at treating the symptoms of physical inactivity – at obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease – but not at the root cause," Weiller was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying.
Weiller said recent studies showed only one in 20 people took the minimum amount of recommended exercise, but there was still "no coordinated plan" to tackle the problem.
He asked: "Can we afford to leave physical activity promotion in primary care as the ‘would-benice’ preventive option, offered typically in the form of unstructured advice by inadequately trained professionals?"
The findings have been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
In May Weiler said that the evidence showed that lack of fitness was the root cause of more illness than being fat. Despite such evidence, he said it remained the poor relation of the public health family.