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WHO Sports and Health Programme

WHO Sports and Health Programme

WHO Sports and Health Programme 

Sports and health go hand in hand, offering people all over the world, of different abilities and ages, the chance for happier, healthier and more productive lives.

The WHO Sports and Health Programme was established to capitalize on the great potential of helping people worldwide lead healthy lives through promoting participation in sports and working with the sports community to advance health for all.

The overall objective of the WHO Sports and Health Programme is to accelerate progress on , which is to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages by implementing WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work for achieving universal health coverage, addressing health emergencies and promoting healthier populations.

                                                                                                 

Goals


Raising awareness

  • Reach 1 billion people through advocacy and communication through sports events and athletes to impact on increased knowledge and behaviour change for healthy lifestyles.
  • Stimulate sports environments to promote the health and well-being of visitors, fans, players, employees, and communities, globally, nationally and locally.

Mainstreaming health

  • Promotion of health and its benefits through physical activity and educational health promotion programmes.

Keeping sports safe

  • Strengthen health security of high visibility sports events in countries where major sports events take place are well prepared for health or safety issues related to sports events and mass gatherings.
  • Assist in making sports safe by preventing injuries, social exclusion and violence.

Sports as a platform for health

  • Increase health legacy for major sports events: Increase national capacity of counties where major sports events take place in relation to prevention of diseases outbreaks, food/water/air safety, health promotion, and safety and health security at mass gatherings.
 
             

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family riding bicycles
Peter Cade
Family out cycling
© Credits

Physical Activity and Health Promotion

Physical activity refers to all movement, including sports, cycling, wheeling, walking, active recreation and play. It can be done at any level of skill and for enjoyment by everybody. 

Regular physical activity helps prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and breast and colon cancer. It also helps prevent hypertension, overweight and obesity and can improve mental health, quality of life and well-being. Yet, much of the world is becoming less active. As countries develop economically, levels of inactivity increase. In some countries, these levels can be as high as 70%, due to changing transport patterns, increased use of technology, cultural values and urbanization.

Working in partnerships, WHO supports countries to implement a whole-of-community approach to increase levels of physical activity in people of all ages and abilities. Global, regional and national coordination and capacity will be strengthened to respond to needs for technical support, innovation and guidance.The goal of the WHO Global action plan on physical activity is to reduce physical inactivity by 15% by 2030.More information: 

Healthy Food and Healthy Lives

A healthy diet plays a vital part in helping people enjoy sports. At the same time, sporting venues and institutions can be powerful venues for promoting health diet options to sports enthusiasts and spectators alike.

Following a healthy diet throughout our lives helps prevent malnutrition in all its forms as well as a range of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and conditions.

But increased production of processed foods, rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles have led to a shift in diets. People now consume more foods high in energy, fats, free sugars and salt, and many people do not eat enough fruit, vegetables and other fibre such as whole grains.

                           
Promoting healthy diets
WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
Health promotion booth at the Ministry of Health Malaysia.
© Credits
WHO works on several priority areas when it comes to healthy food and sports. These include:
  • Ensuring healthy and safe food is served or sold in public settings. This includes setting standards for food in schools, communities, sports stadia or other public settings.
  • Creating healthy food environments, including by promoting restrictions on marketing on unhealthy food directed to children.
  • Facilitating healthier consumer choices, by promoting, or nudging, healthy options in areas where food is served, front-of-pack nutrition labelling, taxes and subsidies.
  • Driving a healthier food supply by eliminating trans fat and reducing salt or sugar content in the foods we are sold and offered.
  • Supporting sound classification of healthy and unhealthy food through  to classify foods based on nutrient content.
More information: 
                           
International Olympic Committee / Getty Images
© Credits

Mass Gatherings

Mass gatherings, like sporting events, are highly visible activities attended by tens of thousands of people. They can pose public health risks and strain the public health resources of the hosting community, city or country.

Mass gatherings, like the FIFA World Cup or Olympics, require considerable preparedness and response capabilities on the part of the host. Authorities and organizers must undertake adequate planning by taking a risk-based approach to their preparations involving risk evaluation, mitigation and communication. It also requires decision-making on holding and cancelling mass gathering events, and on how to make the event safer by taking a consultative process involving all stakeholders.

WHO works on several priority areas in supporting Member States and partners to improve planning for mass gathering events. These include:
  • Ensuring correct standards are applied to risk assessment, surveillance and response, including outbreak management, infection control and vaccination;
  • Supporting planning for managing  mass casualties and emergencies in local communities, at event venues; 
  • Ensuring adequate diagnostic capacities, including human resources, and transport procedures are in place;
  • Ensuring procedures exist to provide updated health advice and guidance for visitors on topics such as vaccinations, food and water safety, and emergency contact numbers;
  • Carrying out activities before and during mass gatherings to encourage healthy behaviours, such as increased physical activity, cessation of tobacco use, avoidance of excess alcohol and safe sex practices.
More information: 

Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviors

WHO supports countries in protecting their citizens from the health impacts of “psychoactive substances” that can cause intoxication and change behavior; lead to substance use disorders, such as alcohol or drug dependence; and have toxic effects on bodily systems and organs, including liver diseases, cognitive impairment, cancers and development disorders in children.

Approximately 3 million people die every year due to alcohol use and almost 0.5 million from drug use. Around 300 million people worldwide suffer from alcohol use disorders, and 35 million from drug use disorders.

                     
alcohol-bottles

WHO works on several priority areas when it comes to alcohol and other psychoactive substance use and sports. These include:

  • Eliminating marketing and advertising of alcohol and other psychoactive substances (such as cannabis, highly caffeinated drinks and nicotine) at sport events and in brand marketing and digital media and social media platforms.
  • Promoting sport as an alternative to psychoactive substance use behavior, particularly in children and adolescents.
  • Preventing use of psychoactive substances as doping agents in professional sport.
  • Promote examples of non-using behavior among “sport starts” as “role models” for people.
More information: 
               

No Tobacco

The harmful effect of tobacco are well known. Every year, more than 8 million people die from tobacco use. Most tobacco-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, which are often targets of intensive tobacco industry interference and marketing.Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers. Second-hand smoke exposure has also been implicated in adverse health outcomes, causing 1.2 million deaths annually. Nearly half of all children breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke and 65 000 children die each year due to illnesses related to second-hand smoke. Smoking while pregnant can lead to several life-long health conditions for babies. 

Heated tobacco products contain tobacco and expose users to toxic emissions, many of which cause cancer and are harmful to health. Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS), commonly known as e-cigarettes, do not contain tobacco and may or may not contain nicotine, but are harmful to health and undoubtedly unsafe.

WHO works on several priority areas when it comes to tobacco and sports. These include:

  • Collaborating with FIFA to ensure tobacco-free environments at FIFA events, as per the provisions of the .
  • Collaborating with the  in revising and endorsing the .
More information: 

Mental Health

There is wide acknowledgement of the important role mental health plays in lives of millions of people worldwide, and in achieving global development goals. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. People with severe mental health conditions die prematurely – as much as two decades early – due to preventable physical conditions.Despite progress in some countries, people with mental health conditions often experience severe human rights violations, discrimination, and stigma.

Increased investment is required on all fronts: for mental health awareness to increase understanding and reduce stigma; for efforts to increase access to quality mental health care and effective treatments; and for research to identify new treatments and improve existing treatments for all mental disorders.  

                         
tadesse abraham running physical activity

WHO works on several priority areas when it comes to mental health and sports. These include:

  • Promoting how exercise as a positive for mental health and well-being, and for reducing depression and anxiety.
  • Advocating for bullying and undue pressure to play no role in sports.
  • Collaborate with athletes and organizations, including FIFA, on mental health promotion, including that the  campaign.


More information: 
               
road safety traffic

Safety and Mobility

Road traffic crashes result in the deaths of approximately 1.3 million people worldwide each year and injure between 20 and 50 million people. More than half of all road traffic deaths and injuries involve vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and their passengers.

WHO works on many fronts to promote sustainable solutions to road traffic injuries, as well as other challenges, including drowning and falls.

More information:
  • WHO Safety and Mobility Unit
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