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WHO Project on Physical Activity Promotion in Socially Disadvantaged Groups

The World Health Organization (co-funded by the European Commission) is implementing a project to support physical activity networking. Part of this overarching project is a work package on the challenge of physical activity promotion in socially disadvantaged groups.

The primary objective of the work package is to develop good practice elements and identify learning points to promote physical activity in socially disadvantaged groups.

Social disadvantage is defined with regard to socio-economic aspects (including income, employment, education and socioeconomic status) as well as to socio-cultural aspects (such as gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, migrant status, and social capital), socio-geographic aspects (such as living in a deprived neighbourhood) and age.

Progress update

In July 2010, NHS Health Scotland (subcontracted by WHO for the case study compilation) made a call for case studies of projects targeting socially disadvantaged groups. A total of 91 case studies from across the WHO European region were received and 29 of these were selected for further examination to identify good practice elements. These case studies, together with an evidence review, were considered by an expert working group at the WHO meeting, Physical Activity Promotion in Socially Disadvantaged Groups  - Evidence and Actions – on 11 and 12 April in Bonn, Germany. Further work is underway by the WHO, including an overview of national policies and a subsequent report will be considered at a second expert group meeting in February 2012. A final WHO guidance report will be published later in 2012.    

Case studies

The 29 case studies were considered as working material for the WHO Bonn meeting and have not been officially published. However, they can be accessed on request by contacting Dr Graeme Scobie at NHS Health Scotland ( or Matthias Braubach at WHO ( Please note that the case studies have not been edited nor have they been endorsed by WHO or the European Commission. The views expressed by the case study authors do not necessarily represent the decisions or the stated policy of the World Health Organization. Similarly, the views expressed therein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.


On behalf of the World Health Organization, NHS Health Scotland would very much like to thank everyone who submitted a case study and who thereby enabled key learning points to be drawn from their work experience. This valuable learning will be disseminated in the planned WHO report next year to a wider audience of policymakers and practitioners across Europe.   


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Copyright 2009 NHS Health Scotland