WHO - IOC to work together to promote healthy lifestyles.

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July 23, 2010 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are to step up their collaboration and streamline their efforts to promote physical activity across the globe. Today, IOC President Jacques Rogge and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations in Lausanne. The document names physical inactivity as one of the most important risk factors for non-communicable diseases, and outlines the joint way forward for the five years to come.

The organizations 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 Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland, the WHO and IOC will work at both the international and country levels to promote activities and policy choices to help people reduce their risk of non - communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancers and diabetes.

"This agreement with the IOC will help increase our ability and reach in addressing the diseases which are the leading causes of death around the world,' said the WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan. "Tackling these diseases is one of the major challenges for sustainable developm ent in the 21st century," she added. Non-communicable 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.

'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 bet ter form synergies between our various initiatives in this field,' said the IOC President, Jacques Rogge. He added: 'It is about acting in concert to get everybody moving and thus reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases across all age groups.'

Almost 90 per cent 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. Non-communicable disease deaths are increasing in all regions of the world. If the 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.

References: IOC and WHO strengthen partnership, Olympic News, Olympic.org, 7/21/2010; WHO And IOC Sign Agreement To Improve Health, Contributor: Voxy News Engine, Voxy.co.NZ, 7/22/2010.