Are government’s physical activity strategies robust enough?

  • Posted on Nov 17, 2016

Strategies developed by the UK government to increase physical activity are far from robust, according to a new report, which found that less than 20 per cent of young English people do the required level of physical activity per day.

This is despite the government publishing the wide-in-scope Sporting Future sport strategy last December – the first piece of sports policy in over a decade.

The 2016 Active Healthy Kids Report Card suggested that while there are “several strategies in place” there is still a “lack of independent and robust evaluation” examining their success in terms of increasing children’s physical activity levels.

Sporting Future set out five outcomes of physical activity that it would measure – including mental health, physical health, social inclusion, economic benefit and self-efficacy – and was backed up by Sport England’s Towards an Active Nation blueprint.

In the new study, England received a D- grade for overall physical activity levels of children aged 15 and under, with 78 per cent of boys and 85 per cent of girls classed as inactive for failing to do at least 60 minutes of moderate activity per day.

This is worse than the figure recorded by the same study two years ago, when England received a C/D grade with around 40 per cent of children physically active.

The picture was even worse in Scotland which received an F grade for physical activity, meaning that very few children participate in any kind of physical activity.

However, both nations fare well in terms of their built environments for fostering physical activity, receiving B grades respectively.

The study also highlighted the fact that there was a “lack of representative data” for children’s physical activity rates. Sport England has the Active People Survey – soon to become Active Lives – although both only record the activity of those over 14.

Participation in organised sport in England also decreased over the two years, with around a third (34 per cent) of 5-15 year-olds taking part. Only 27 per cent of 11-15 year-olds were members of sports clubs.

To view the whole snapshot of England, click here.

Source: Leisure Opportunities