Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


New advice on physical activity aims to prevent chronic disease from early years

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 12 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4457

Rapid Response:

Life-course approach in the control and prevention of chronic diseases

The report on physical activity for health from the four home
countries' Chief Medical Officers (1,2) can be interpreted as a very
timely reminder towards operationalization of the targets for the global
control and prevention of chronic diseases. The life-course approach of
the report recognizes the very early influences of physical inactivity (3)
and subtly emphasizes on the contributions of certain childhood factors
that precede adult chronic disease (4). Applying the guidelines of this
report together with Khan, Weiler, and Blair's "Prescribing exercise in
primary care" (5) is a more comprehensive approach for encouraging and
increasing physical activity and can be used as references to revise
pertinent chronic disease documents, i.e., NCD Alliance UN High Level
Summit zero draft
Level%20Summit%20Zero%20Draft.pdf); WHO draft Targets To Monitor Progress
In Reducing The Burden Of Noncommunicable Diseases

Chronic diseases evolve insidiously and involve a complex interplay
of many inter-related factors which should all be taken into consideration
in order to address the growing burden. Ample coverage of the risk
factors throughout life and beginning from the womb is imperative.
Influences on lifestyle should be seen in a life-course perspective.
Chronic disease control and prevention measures should be multi-sectoral;
and viewing economic and educational policies as, implicitly, health
policies should not be deemed outrageous.

1. Billingsley M. New advice on physical activity aims to prevent
chronic disease from early years. BMJ 2011; 343:d4457

2. Start Active, Stay Active: A Report on Physical Activity for Health
from the Four Home Countries' Chief Medical Officers. Available from:,Da...
[accessed 24 July 2011]

3. Takahashi E, Yoshida K, Sugimori H, Miyakawa M, Izuno T, Yamagami T,
Kagamimori S. Influence Factors on the Development of Obesity in 3-Year-
Old Children Based on the Toyama Study. Preventive Medicine 1999,

4. Dietz WH. Health Consequences of Obesity in Youth: Childhood
Predictors of Adult Disease. Pediatrics 1998, 101(suppl.2):518-525.

5. Khan KM, Weiler R, Blair SN. Prescribing exercise in primary care: Ten
practical steps on how to do it. BMJ 2011;343:d4141

Competing interests: GMVKu is a member and a spokesperson of the Network 'Switching International Health Policies and Systems' (SWIHPS), an international network of individuals and institutions to disseminate and exchange information, expertise and practice to contribute to stronger health systems and improved policy making. The network has a strong thematic focus on the organization of care for chronic diseases in low income countries. The secretariat of the network is hosted by the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp, Belgium

25 July 2011
Grace Marie V. Ku
Family Physician
Veterans Memorial Medical Center, Philippines / Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium