Inactivity is responsible for nearly twice as many deaths as obesity, a study performed by the University of Cambridge has discovered.
The study, Physical activity and all-cause mortality across levels of overall and abdominal adiposity in European men and women, examined 334,161 European men and women over a 12 year period. They estimated that approximately 676,000 deaths in Europe were caused by inactivity per year, compared to 337,000 from obesity.
Dr Justin Varney, national lead for adult health and wellbeing at PHE said: 'Research shows that doing physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight will both help to improve your health and reduce the risk of a number of diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast and bowel cancer. However, 62 per cent of adults are overweight or obese and one in four women and one in five men are doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week.'
The study estimated that if all inactivity was avoided, deaths could be reduced by up to 7.35 per cent. In comparison, if all obesity was avoided, deaths would fall by 3.66 per cent. However, a combination of inactivity and obesity was found to be particularly dangerous, with the study's authors noting that the hazards associated with inactivity are reduced by between 16 and 30 per cent in those with lower BMIs.
Dr Varney added: 'Public agencies across the country need to work together with industry and local people to create healthy communities and healthy places to work and live.'
The researchers suggested that walking for 20 minutes a day could be a good start to increasing activity levels.