Three Growth Spurts in Global Physical Activity Policies between 2000 and 2019: A Policy Document Analysis

Journal Article


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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) contribute significantly to global mortality and are of particular concern in growing urban populations of low- and-middle income countries (LMICs). Physical inactivity is a key NCD determinant and requires urgent addressing. Laudable global and regional efforts to promote physical activity are being made, but the links between physical activity (PA), NCD reduction, and integrated intersectoral approaches to reducing obesogenic environments are not consistently made. This study applied a document analysis approach to global PA and NCD policies to better understand the current global policy environment and how this may facilitate integrated PA promotion. A total of 34 global policies related to PA, from different sectors, were analyzed. PA policy in mitigation of NCDs has evolved exponentially, with a progression towards addressing structural determinants alongside individual behavior change. The global PA agenda is primarily driven by the World Health Organization. Intersectoral collaboration is importantly regarded, but the contributions of other sectors, outside of health, education, transport, and urban planning, are less clear. Improving PA among key sub-populations—women, girls, and adolescents—requires greater policy consideration. It is imperative for PA-relevant sectors at all levels to recognize the links with NCDs and work towards integrated policy and practice in mitigation of the rising NCD pandemic.