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WHO and the International Olympic Committee sign agreement to improve healthy lifestyles

Physical activity can reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases

News release

WHO and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are teaming up to promote healthy lifestyle choices, including physical activity, sports for all, Tobacco Free Olympic Games, and the prevention of childhood obesity. As outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed today in Lausanne, the WHO and IOC will work at both the international and country level to promote activities and policy choices to help people reduce their risk of noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancers, and diabetes.

"This agreement with the International Olympic Committee will help increase our ability and reach in addressing the diseases which are the leading causes of death around the world," said WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan. " Tackling these diseases is one of the major challenges for sustainable development in the twenty-first century."

Noncommunicable diseases kill nearly 35 million people each year, including almost 9 million under the age of 60. Physical inactivity is ranked as the fourth leading risk factor for all deaths globally, contributing to 1.9 million deaths each year.

Promoting healthy lifestyles

"The IOC and the WHO are both eager to promote healthy lifestyles and grassroots sports activities worldwide, and today's agreement is an important step to better form synergies between our various initiatives in this field," said IOC President Jacques Rogge. "It is about acting in concert to get everybody moving and thus reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases across all age groups."

Almost 90% of fatalities before the age of 60 occur in developing countries and can be largely prevented by reducing the level of exposure to tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.

Noncommunicable disease deaths are increasing in all regions of the world. If trends continue unabated, deaths will rise to an estimated 41.2 million a year by 2015.

The organizations agreed to establish a follow-up group that will meet at least annually to further define, develop and maintain a programme of international cooperation and implement activities of common interest.

For more information please contact:

Fadéla Chaib
WHO Communications Officer
Telephone: +41 22 791 32 28
Mobile: +41 79 475 55 56
Email: chaibf@who.int

Timothy Armstrong
Coordinator, Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion
Telephone: +41 22 971 1274
Mobile +41 79 445 2026
Email: armstrongt@who.int

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