In a report from the Health Committee (Impact of Physical Activity & Diet on Health (Health Committee, 2015-03-25)), MPs said that far greater emphasis was needed on physical activity independent of issues such as obesity, as evidence showed that increasing physical activity levels could have a greater effect on reducing mortality than on reducing weight.
The MPs added that the next Government should prioritise:
- Health promotion; and
- Early intervention.
The report suggests that prioritising these would aid in tackling the health inequalities and harms that arise from poor diet and physical inactivity.
MPs said that while diet, obesity and physical activity all affected health, activity had for too long been seen only in terms of its benefits in tackling obesity.
The report states (p.3): “A core message from this inquiry is the compelling evidence that physical activity in its own right has huge benefits totally independent of a person’s weight. The importance of this – regardless of weight, age, gender or other factors – needs to be clearly communicated.”
MPs recommended that the UK Government, Public Health England, and health professionals – particularly GPs – should take urgent action to communicate this message to the public. Evidence during the inquiry had shown that more needed to be done in clinical encounters to promote physical activity, as activity was sometimes given lesser importance by doctors than diet or obesity.
The report also recommended that primary care take the lead, as it has done for smoking cessation, in promoting physical activity and preventing obesity.