First research of its kind reveals scale of inactivity among children

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The CEO of Sport England is calling for system-wide change to tackle inactivity among children.

Active Lives Children and Young People is the first research of its kind giving comprehensive insight into how children in England are taking part in sport and physical activity in and out of school.

Based on responses from over 130,000 children aged five to 16 during the last academic year, the Sport England research found that 43.3 per cent of children, nearly three million, lead active lives, which means they do an average of 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day.

Among these youngsters, only the most active 1.2 million children (17.5 per cent) are meeting the CMO guideline of 60 minutes of activity a day, every day of the week.

Overall, around 2.3 million children and young people (32.9 per cent) are active for less than 30 minutes a day.

Children from the most affluent families are more active than those in the least affluent families and boys are still more likely to be active than girls, a trend that grows as they get older.

Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of Sport England, described the findings as a ‘wake up call’ for the industry. “Parents, schools, the sport and leisure industry and government all have a role to play in addressing and increasing childhood activity. These results tell us that what is currently being done to support them is not enough and change is required.”

Sport England will publish the first results of its research on the attitudes of children to sport and activity, showing what they like about being active.

“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.”

The sports minister Mims Davies described activity levels among children as ‘unacceptable’ and said the government's School Sport and Activity Action Plan – due to be published this year - would help to ensure that all children have access to good coaching and facilities and urged local communities, parents and the sports sector to build a "comprehensive and cross-government offer".

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