In a major new health report the World Health Organization stresses that Government’s across the globe have to get people out of cars for short journeys, and create better built environments so people choose to cycle and walk instead.

The World Health Organisation has published a report that says inactivity is a major cause of type 2 diabetes, a disease that is growing so fast it could bankrupt national health systems. The report says:  “Urban planning and active transport policies can ensure that walking, cycling and other forms of non-motorized transport are accessible and safe for all.

Diabetes now affects nearly one in 11 adults across the globe; cases had nearly quadrupled to 422 million in 2014 from 108 million in 1980.

WHO’s report says:  “Urban planning and active transport policies can ensure that walking, cycling and other forms of non-motorized transport are accessible and safe for all.”

This is a clarion call for Government’s everywhere to stop pandering to the motor car, and start building for health.

“Diabetes and its complications bring about substantial economic loss to people with diabetes and their families, and to health systems and national economies through direct medical costs and loss of work and wages,” warns the report. Mass motoring is killing people, and in many more ways than one.

It’s essential that countries build “supportive built and social environments for physical activity,” says the world’s leading health organisation.

However, it warns: “No single policy or intervention can ensure this happens. It calls for a whole-of-government and whole-of- society approach, in which all sectors systematically consider the health impact of policies in trade, agriculture, finance, transport, education and urban planning – recognizing that health is enhanced or obstructed as a result of policies in these and other areas.”

WHO says changes have to be made at a “full-population scale”. So, no more short and ineffective cycle paths, national and local governments have to get serious about making people active, for their own good, and to prevent the collapse of national health systems.

“The physical or built environment plays an important role in facilitating physical activity for many people,” continues the WHO report.

“Urban planning and active transport policies can ensure that walking, cycling and other forms of non-motorized transport are accessible and safe for all.”

Cycling and walking are so valuable because they are transport and exercise at the same time.

“The poorest groups in society, especially women, may have less time and fewer resources to participate in leisure-time activity, making policy interventions that target active transport and incidental physical activity throughout the day much more important,” says the WHO report.

Really, the World Health Organisation couldn’t be clearer: “Create supportive built and social environments for physical activity – transport and urban planning policy measures can facilitate access to safe, affordable opportunities for physical activity.”

Yet despite calls such as this from the World Health Organisation – and many similar calls from other organisations down the years – the British Government is set on spending £15.2bn on building more roads, and just £300m on facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. As is proved time and time again, and explained by the theory of induced demand, more road leads to more traffic, a surefire way to more congestion – and more ill health.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results, then the British Government’s road building program is most definitely insane.