According to a new report from the British Medical Journal, only half of 7-year-old children in the UK are getting recommended levels of physical activity.
Decades of over reliance on cars, parental fears of child safety and far better TV (and video games) than they used to have in the olden days have all combined to produce these worrying statistics.
The BMJ said girls were less active than boys (38 per cent compared to 63 per cent meeting guidlelines). Drilling further down into the figures, the BMJ found that children of Indian ethnicity were significantly less active overall than all other ethnic groups, while children of Bangladeshi origin and those living in Northern Ireland were the least likely to meet guidelines.
The BMJ added that long-term studies are needed to better understand the implications for long-term health and well being, but stressed that ‘population-wide efforts to boost physical activity among young people are needed’ adding that it was likely that to acheive that ‘a broad range of policy interventions’.
We recently saw the Government make a welcome funding promise for cycle projects across certain cities in the UK, but the £77m is a drop in the ocean compared to the cash dedicated to road building projects.
Sustrans’ health director Philip Insall said: “The situation is now critical with so few of our children enjoying the benefits of daily exercise – this study highlights that we need to take urgent action.
"But we must think outside the playground and the pitch. All four of the UK Chief Medical Officers agree we need to tackle the journey to school so kids can incorporate exercise into their daily routines.
“Instead of building new roads and encouraging more motor traffic we need to create a safe environment in our streets where kids can walk, cycle and play. The answer is slower speeds, safer routes and cycle training for every child.”