International Diabetes Federation Supporting European Week of Sport 2016

A call for ACTION by International Diabetes Federation.

The last decades have seen major social transformation, including increased urbanisation and sedentarism, which have an impact on our lifestyle and our health. Today in Europe, 50% of the adult population is overweight, 23% is obese and 59% of Europeans never or rarely (less than once a week) exercise or play sport. More worryingly, two thirds of adolescents are insufficiently active, leading to overweight or obesity.

The relation between lack of physical activity and the increasing prevalence of diabetes is clear. It is estimated that overweight and obesity account for 65% to 80% of the increase in the prevalence of diabetes. Weight reduction in people at risk is therefore crucial to prevent Type 2 diabetes.

In the past the majority of weight reduction interventions focused on diet and restricting the intake of calories. By now we know about the crucial role of physical activity as an important component of such interventions.

Physical activity is not only about wellbeing and weight loss, it has an impact on our quality of life and our economic growth. The less active citizens are, the higher the spending on healthcare and the more important the loss of productivity.

As we celebrate the European week of sport, IDF Europe applauds the efforts of the European Commission to encourage European citizens, with or without diabetes, to increase their level of physical activity.

Adopting a healthier lifestyle by increasing the level of physical activity is a personal choice. However, the local environment will influence this decision. Efforts must be made at every level to create a positive snowball effect on the level of physical activity in Europe. Walking, cycling and dedicated safe urban spaces for recreational activities must become a priority in urban planning. For children, physical activity must be encouraged before, during and after school time. People diagnosed with type 1 diabetes should be encouraged to be physically active and should not be discriminated by being forbidden to play sports, as it still happen in some European countries.

So let’s move our bodies as well as our political environment for a healthier Europe, this week and every week of the year!