Private goods industry. According to the World Health Organization,

Private
sector has an especially important role to play in the prevention of NCDs,
especially the sporting goods industry. According to the World Health
Organization, 3.2 million people die each year due to conditions caused by
physical inactivity, and at least 2.8 million people die because they are overweight
and obese. The obesity epidemic is spreading, with some countries having more
than 50 percent of their population obese. This imposes a heavy burden on
health systems.

I’m
sure this is not news to sporting goods companies, but at least 60 percent of
the world’s population fails to complete the recommended amount of physical
activity of 30 minutes per day for five days a week. This is despite the
evidence that healthy diets and physical activity improve the health of
individuals and prevent conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2
diabetes and some cancers (e.g. breast and colon).

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Sporting
goods companies can have a tremendous impact on global health by developing products
and services that are responsive to local needs and culture. The industry
carries the advantage of having a positive image in health because of the
nature of its products and services. It also has a large consumer base in the
particularly rich target market of children and adolescents. There is no doubt
that positive lifestyle changes are beneficial at any age, but exposure to
exercise and healthy ways of living at younger ages offers the greatest
protection from NCDs. Improving physical activity among children, and creating
healthy environments through early childhood physical activity programs, will
have a tremendous positive impact.

Apart
from the goods and services it provides to consumers, the sporting goods industry
can contribute major value as an employer. Creating a healthy working
environment through workplace wellness initiatives, such as screening for
diseases, tobacco cessation programs, flu shots and lifestyle improvement
programs for employees not only prevents diseases and improves productivity, it
also generates a substantial return on investment at US$3.27 per US$1 spent.

Through
addressing NCDs in the ways mentioned above, the sporting goods industry has an
opportunity to create economic value throughout society, a notion that rests on
the shared value principle. As Michael Porter defines it in a recent article in
the Harvard Business Review, shared
value is “policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of
a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in
the communities in which it operates.” To Porter, shared value calculates
benefits relative to costs, not just benefits alone. In other words, shared
value is more than corporate social responsibility, where the goal is just to do
good. Creating shared value is a true win-win for everyone, private sector,
civil society and government alike, and for companies it is an opportunity to
better connect their success with societal , opening up many ways to improve
efficiency, meet needs and expand markets.