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Just one in 30 British children get the recommended amount of daily exercise

The shocking inactivity of Britain’s children has today been laid bare by damning new figures.   

Just one in 30 of children aged either nine or ten completes the recommended amount of daily exercise.

Guidelines say those aged five to 18 should do at least one hour of ‘moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity’ every day.

However, researchers have discovered just 3.2 per cent of youngsters in year five stick to the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended amount.

Just one in 30 of children aged either nine or ten completes the recommended amount of daily exercise (stock picture)

Activity levels among girls were even lower, with just 1.2 per cent hitting the 60-minute daily target – compared with 5.5 per cent of boys. 

The data was gathered by researchers at the universities of Exeter and Plymouth from 807 year five children from 32 schools in Devon. 

Previously, research used to measure the activity of schoolchildren used less than a week’s worth of data to create an average. 

But the latest study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, gathered a full seven days from each child, who wore an activity tracker watch. 

Around 30.6 per cent achieved an ‘average’ of 60 minutes daily, according to the findings published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 

However, only one tenth of those (25 children) actually accomplished this goal for every day in Dr Lisa Price’s study – which experts say is crucial. 


English children are fatter than ever as official data earlier this month revealed a record number of 10 to 11-year-olds are now severely obese.

NHS figures showed the proportion of children who are severely obese has risen by more than a third since 2007.

It now sits at 4.2 per cent, the highest ever level – 24,437 children in England fall into the fattest possible category.

The London borough of Brent had the highest level of severely obese children, with a rate of 7.8 per cent – more than five times higher than 1.5 per cent in the lowest, Richmond upon Thames.

And more than a fifth of children of school-leaving age are obese, as well as 9.5 per cent of four to five-year-olds, which experts have called ‘totally unacceptable’.

Childhood obesity rates in the most deprived areas are more than double that of those in the least deprived areas, the figures also showed.

‘Previous studies based on average activity are likely to have over-estimated the percentage of children meeting the recommendations,’ said Dr Price.

‘Our findings suggest that just under a third of children are achieving an average of 60 minutes per day, but only 3.2 per cent meet the 60-minute target every day. 

‘We were surprised to find such a big difference. 

‘We don’t know whether averaging 60 minutes a day will be different in terms of health outcomes compared to 60 minutes daily – more research is needed to look into this. 

‘We do know that most children aren’t doing enough physical activity, and that this has consequences not just in childhood but in adulthood too.’ 

The research was carried out as part of the Healthy Lifestyles Programme, a school-based obesity prevention trial which encouraged children and their families to live healthier lives.  

Figures earlier this month revealed English children are fatter than ever as a record number of 10 to 11-year-olds are now severely obese – around 24,000.

The proportion of 10 and 11-year-olds who are overweight or obese has grown to 34.3 per cent – 197,888 children – compared with 31.6 per cent in 2016/17.

Latest data from the National Child Measurement Programme shows 4.2 per cent of Year 6 pupils in England were defined as severely obese, up from 3.6 in 2016/17.


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