More than 80 per cent of children and young people in West Sussex are failing to hit the Chief Medical Officer’s target for daily physical activity, according to new research.
The Active Lives Children and Young People survey, published by Sport England, found an estimated 39,200 children aged between five and 16 in West Sussex do less than 30 minutes of exercise a day on average.
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A further 29,100 manage an average of at least half an hour a day, but less than an hour.
The Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines state children should get at least an hour of physical activity every day of the week – but 81 per cent of five to 16-year-olds in West Sussex fail to hit this target.
The Active Lives Children and Young People survey is the largest of its kind, based on responses from more than 100,000 five to 16-year-olds during the academic year 2017-18.
Anything which raises your heart rate and makes you out of breath counts as physical activity – from organised team sports to playing outside.
The survey found a third of children in England do not manage an average of half an hour of activity a day, and less than 20 per cent met the Chief Medical Officer’s target of an hour every day.
Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth said he was calling for system-wide change and ‘a national focus on the health and wellbeing of our nation’s children’.
He called the report ‘a big wake-up call for all of us’.
He said: “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.
“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.
“Our children deserve better, and Sport England is determined to play its part.”
Sports Minister Mims Davies said the number of young people not doing enough exercise is ‘simply unacceptable’.
She said: “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.
“I know that Sport England are committed to making progress in this area, and our School Sport and Activity Action Plan will also ensure that all children have access to quality PE, sport sessions and clubs.”
Government guidelines state children and young people should get half their daily hour of physical activity at school, and half out of school.
Clubs and sports teams which take place outside school hours count as out-of-school activities, even if they are school-run.
In West Sussex children were more likely to miss the target in school.
During school hours, 58 per cent of students said they were active for less than 30 minutes a day, compared to 42 per cent outside school.
• Report by Isabelle Kirk, data reporter