New research published by Sport England, carried out independently by Ipsos MORI, reveals the scale of the challenge to help the nation’s children be more active, and the benefits that sport and physical activity can bring.
Active Lives Children and Young People is the largest ever survey of its kind and provides comprehensive insight into how children in England are taking part in sport and physical activity both in and out of school. It shows that around 3 million children (43.3%) lead active lives, doing an average of 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day. However just over 2.3 million children and young people (32.9%) are less active which means they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
The report is based on responses from over 130,000 children aged 5-16 in England during the academic year 2017 to 2018. It also reveals that there are significant inequalities based on family income.
It shows that children from the most affluent families are more active than those in the least affluent families.
Other findings include:
The survey also covers the ‘outcomes’ of sport and activity and helps to show the links between being active and the mental wellbeing of children as well as their personal development and that of their community. The opportunity to see more of these benefits by helping more children to be active enough is clear.
Commenting, Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive at Sport England said: “Parents, schools, the sport and leisure industry and government all have a role to play in addressing and increasing childhood activity. This research is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and is a big wake-up call for all of us. We all care about the health and wellbeing of our children. These results tell us that what is currently being done to support them is not enough and change is required.
“We know that lots of factors affect behaviour and there is no single answer to the problem but listening to young people and what they want is the best starting point. In March we will publish the first results of our research on the attitudes of children to sport and activity, showing what they like about being active.
“I am calling for a national focus on the health and wellbeing of our nation’s children and for the whole system to be united in delivering change. Our children deserve better and Sport England is determined to play its part.”
Sports Minister Mims Davies said: “While it is encouraging that 3 million children do at least an average of 60 minutes of sport or physical activity every day, the number of young people who are not doing enough is simply unacceptable. We know that an active child is a happier child and efforts must be stepped up to encourage young people to live healthy, active lives and I know that Sport England are committed to making progress in this area.
"Our School Sport and Activity Action Plan will also ensure that all children have access to quality PE, sport sessions and clubs. Together with the sport sector, parents and our local communities, we must build a comprehensive and cross Government offer to create a truly active nation."
Dr Alison Tedstone, Public Health England Head of Diet, Obesity and Physical Activity said: “Physical activity is crucial for the good physical and mental health of children and young people - this work is a timely reminder for everyone to do more to help them be more active.”
Understanding the barriers, motivations and attitude of young people towards sport and physical activity is a key part of providing solutions that meet their needs. Sport England will be releasing a second report due in March 2019, highlighting children’s attitudes to sport and physical activity.
To find out more about Active Lives Children and Young People and see the full results in full, go to: www.sportengland.org/activeliveschildren