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Call for action in city as inactivity costs PS24m.

Byline: Dan Warburton Chief Reporter dan.warburton@ncjmedia.co.uk

PHYSICAL inactivity costs the North East more than PS140m a year as local councils fail to tackle a "forgotten pandemic", a report has claimed.

An analysis compiled by the campaign group ukactive claims levels of inactivity in Sunderland are among the highest in the country, with more than a third of adults failing to carry out regular exercise.

They say that figure represents a PS24m burden on Sunderland Council which includes the cost of sick leave with sedentary lifestyles leading to 336 out of 100,000 premature deaths.

Now the charity is calling for more action in a bid to solve a problem which accounts for thousands of premature deaths each year.

Chairman of ukactive Fred Turok said: "It's no longer acceptable that physical inactivity remains the forgotten cause of death in the UK. More deprived areas are faring worse in a physical inactivity pandemic, with no national strategy to improve our fitness levels, from before we take our first steps to our last.

"Our report shows people in deprived areas are more likely to suffer a premature death because of a lack of physical activity."

The survey found 36% of adults in Sunderland are inactive compared to 25% in Newcastle, despite both having the same level of socio-economic deprivation. With 30.49% of adults classed as physically inactive, the North East is just below the national average of 28.95%. The region spends slightly more (2.7 per cent) than the national average (2.4 per cent) on physical activity interventions as a proportion of its annual public health budget.For every 100,000 citizens in Sunderland, the annual financial burden of inactivity is PS24m - almost PS8m more than in Newcastle.

Lord Sebastian Coe, who backed the report, said: "Turning the tide of inactivity would be a hugely important outcome for our Olympic and Paralympic legacy story, which would have a massive longterm impact on our nation's health and wellbeing."

Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, at Sunderland Council, John Kelly, said: "Sunderland's commitment to increasing levels of participation in physical activity, leisure and sport is demonstrated through continued investment in facilities and programmes in place across the community to encourage more people to become more active and make more uses of our many parks and open spaces. Based on the latest figures from Sport England, the number of people in Sunderland taking part in regular physical activity and sport has actually increased to only slightly behind the regional and national average. In addition the city has just been awarded PS200,000 from Sport England to get even more people more active."

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Levels of inactivity in Sunderland are among the highest in the country, costing the council PS24m through >sick leave and accounting for 336 premature deaths out of 100,000
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 31, 2014
Words:476
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