Non-communicable diseases account for an increasing part of total mortality in Europe; strategies on how to prevent this development are needed, taking into account the demographic development and the pressure on health care budgets in the midst of economic crisis. One concept to counteract this development is increasing physical activity through the promotion and support of active mobility in daily life of individuals.
The project PASTA will be implemented to identify and understand established and innovative approaches for increasing physical activity and decreasing sedentary behaviour through active mobility. To reach these goals a review of active mobility and good practices in different areas will be implemented, a longitudinal study to identify and understand correlates of active mobility, physical activity and associated injury risk will be conducted, and an integrated tool for Health Impact Assessment will be developed. Through the integration of stakeholders from different areas (e.g. health, transport planning, urban planning) and broad dissemination of the results, the impacts of PASTA will be maximised.
Non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes) account for some 86% of total mortality in Europe, and an estimated impact of up to 7% on a country’s GDP. With ageing populations and increasing pressure on health care budgets in the midst of economic crisis, there is a need for urgent action in primary prevention and population interventions. The onset of chronic conditions is heavily influenced by risk factors such as lack of physical activity and unhealthy diet, which in turn are strongly dependent on the environments and settings in which people live, move, work, study, eat, socialize and enjoy leisure time. Increasing physical activity is one of the key approaches to address non-communicable diseases: only one third of the European population is estimated to meet the minimum recommended levels of physical activity, which for adults correspond to at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week.
In the face of myriad challenges, increasing physical activity through traditional approaches such as public health advocacy, sports and leisure time physical activity alone, has shown not to be sufficient not be sufficient. But integrating physical activity into daily life as routine behaviour through the promotion of active mobility can be a strategy to overcome this problem. Active mobility can contribute considerably to total physical activity and result in significant positive health effects. Empowering individuals to engage in active life styles will require empowering policy makers, health professionals and planners with the knowledge and tools to create the environments in which individuals can easily take up healthy behaviours.
The aim of the PASTA project is the systematic development and application of new strategies, concepts and models addressing the needs of the promotion of active mobility, thereby linking diverse areas as urban and transport planning, empirical epidemiological research, health and economic impact assessment and practice and policy relevant dissemination of good practices.
Further goals of PASTA are the identification and better understanding of established and innovative approaches for increasing physical activity and decreasing sedentary behaviour through active mobility, through:
Within the PASTA project an enhanced WHO Health Economic Assessment Tool for walking and cycling (HEAT) will be developed and applied, using the vast experience of the PASTA consortium on HIA. The simple online tool will allow transport planners to weigh benefits and risks as well as costs and benefits against each other and to overcome concerns related to potential risks of AM for health.
Furthermore, a compendium of best practices will be developed on the base of the project results. This document will provide recommendations on how to integrate public health aspects in urban planning and Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs), how to capitalise on the health benefits of active mobility, and how to promote active mobility in user-friendly format.
To maximise the impact of PASTA several policy and practice relevant products and dissemination activities for widespread communication will be developed and applied. These will address especially decision makers, public authorities, practitioners, researchers, businesses, civil society organizations and end users. Diverse materials will provide good practices guidance of active mobility promotion covering several active mobility-related domains such as decision making, transport planning and health promotion, infrastructure and campaigns, data collection and evaluation, as well as communication and education.