Europe’s hospitals are struggling with ageing populations and tightening budgets. Given this, many policymakers are attracted by the idea of ‘preventative’ public health interventions, an idea championed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which recommends that governments actively promote physical activity and healthy diets as a way to improve the health of citizens. After all, it’s much cheaper to care for a fit and healthy population, and risk factors such as physical inactivity can lead to a host of health issues, including diabetes, coronary heart disease, and some cancers.
The International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) estimates that physical inactivity costs Europe over €80 billion per year. Could this money be saved if governments invested more in sports facilities, green spaces and bicycle paths? Or should it be up to individuals to keep themselves fit and healthy? Who should pay for healthcare costs if you don’t exercise and keep fit?
We had a comment sent in by Desmond, arguing that local governments in particular should be compelled and incentivised (i.e. a mixture of carrot and stick) to provide opportunities and encouragement for citizens to keep fit.
To get a reaction, we took Desmond’s questions to Jacob Schouenborg, Secretary General of the International Sport and Culture Association. How would he respond?
To get another perspective, we also took Desmond’s suggestion to Jan Rijpstra, President of the Dutch Royal Society of Physical Education Teachers. What would he say?
Who should pay for healthcare costs if you don’t exercise and keep fit? And is there anything governments can do to encourage YOU to keep physically active and stay healthy? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!