Breaking news from ISPAH President

This week I represented ISPAH at the World Health Assembly to support two important official technical meetings aimed at engaging countries to scale up actions on physical activity and healthy eating.  Towards Achieving the PA Target (10x25):  Are We Walking the Talk? was organised by Ministry of Health and Institute of Public Health, Thailand with support from Canada, Finland, Iran, Japan, South Africa and the USA. Current policy and experiences from each country were shared after a brief overview on the global status of PA and challenges presented by Dr Fiona Bull. With an excellent attendance and ‘standing ovations’ participants commented on the high level of support and enjoyment of the session. A new Thai video showed delegates 10 ways to be active in workplace meetings and the DG Margaret Chan joined the session to share her support and own personal routine of 20 mins of walking before lunch!  Discussions addressed many issues including the need to promote the positive benefits of participation (not focus solely on the reduction in risks), the need for supportive environments and to address safety (from traffic, air pollution and violence), merits of using ‘nudge’ principles and the need to ensure consistency in definition and measures to enable between country comparisons. For ISPAH this was a key advocacy event in the lead up to the ISPAH Congress in Nov 2016 and it achieved the goal of raising awareness of the urgent need for stronger commitment and action in most countries. The Ministry of Health, Thailand and ThaiHealth are to be congratulated for their excellent preparation and promotion. Links to photos and Thai video will be posted shortly on ISPAH website.
The 2nd technical meeting focussed on country adoption and implementation of the recommendations of the final report of the Commission on ending childhood obesity (ECHO). Presentations by the Commission co-chairs Dr Peter Gluckman and Dr Sania Nishtar were followed by examples of actions in Ghana, Malaysia and Mexico as well as a personal perspective from a youth advocate from NZ. The ECHO recommendations include a strong call for education, guidelines, promotion, policy and environments to support PA in all settings relevant to children such as child care, schools and sports settings. There is a particularly strong focus on addressing the early determinants of obesity and epigenetics which highlighted the need to promote healthy eating and physical activity in prospective parents (pre conception), through pregnancy and in the first 1000 days of life. Regulation of marketing, fiscal measures and trade agreements were raised in discussion. ISPAH President, Dr Fiona Bull chaired the session and ensure ‘standing ovations’ kept everyone moving during the session. The WHA itself will be deliberating a proposed Resolution related to the implementation of ECHO recommendations and the outcome will be available at the closing of WHA.

These two technical meetings at the World Health Assembly served to raise the profile of two important modifiable risk factors of NCD which both have targets set in the Global Action Plan on NCD Prevention.