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Inactivity, Smoking Killing Many – Study 

By Mildred Enayeh* with online report — A recent study has shown that lack of exercise and smoking are causing many deaths across the world. According to the study, published in the Lancet to coincide with the build-up to the Olympics, about a third of adults are not doing enough physical activity, causing 5.3 million deaths a year.

That equates to about one in 10 deaths from diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and breast and colon cancer. Researchers said the problem was now so bad it should be treated as a pandemic. The BBC, which published the report on its online, quotes the researchers as saying tackling it required a new way of thinking. They suggested the public needed to be warned about the dangers of inactivity rather than just reminded of the benefits of it.

The team of 33 researchers drawn from centres across the world also said governments needed to look at ways to make physical activity more convenient, affordable and safer. The report comes at a time when the World Health Organisation just raised an alarm about exponential overweight among adults. Overweight, according to the WHO, is a major health concern as it leads to diabetes, cancer and heart related diseases.

Excessive drinking and smoking among Cameroonian youth and adults, has continued to preoccupy health officials who have warned about its disastrous effects to health. Apparently in a bid to encourage citizens to become more active, a national day for sports was launched throughout the country recently.

Global Challenge

Meanwhile, it is recommended that adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or gardening, each week. The Lancet study found people in higher income countries were the least active with those in the UK among the worst as nearly two-thirds of adults were judged not to be doing enough.

Pedro Hallal, one of the lead researchers, said: “With the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games, sport and physical activity will attract tremendous worldwide attention. “Although the world will be watching elite athletes from many countries compete in sporting events… most spectators will be quite inactive.

“The global challenge is clear – make physical activity a public health priority throughout the world to improve health and reduce the burden of disease.” Prof Lindsey Davies, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, agreed: “We need to do all we can to make it easy for people to look after their health and get active as part of their daily lives.”
But others questioned equating smoking with inactivity.

While smoking and inactivity kill a similar number of people, smoking rates are much lower than the number of inactive people, making smoking more risky to the individual. Dr. Claire Knight, of Cancer Research UK, said: “When it comes to preventing cancer, stopping smoking is by far the most important thing you can do.”

*(National Polytechnic Bambui Journalism Student On Internship)

First published in The Post print edition no. 01360

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