01.Physical activity report card for kids
Australian children rank among the worst in the world and narrowly avoid an overall fail in a new physical activity report card.
An abysmal "D-" was awarded to Aussie kids for overall physical activity levels in the inaugural Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. According to the report, 80% of five to 17-year-olds aren’t meeting the Australian physical activity guidelines of at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. And while a large percentage of kids participate in organised sport, 70% of five to 17-year-olds fail to meet the recommended Australian screen time guidelines of no more than two hours per day.
Australia's report card was measured against those of 14 other countries around the world, with Australia receiving lower grades than New Zealand in many key areas including organised sport participation, active play, active transport and sedentary behaviours.
The results indicate too many Aussie parents believe playing sport is enough to keep their kids healthy. “Australia is a sporting nation, and vast numbers of children are involved in some type of organised sport but this report clearly shows we need to be looking at further ways to keep kids active when they are not on the sports field,” says report author Natasha Schranz, PhD from the University of South Australia.
Associate Professor Trevor Shilton, The Heart Foundation’s National Lead on Active Living warns, “We’re raising a generation of couch potatoes and if we don’t start to reverse this trend this will drive up health problems in the future – obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease,”
“We know what works. We need high quality, mandatory physical activity in our schools. We need to encourage and support our kids to stay active in everyday life – to be social and play outside, to walk and cycle in their neighbourhoods, do some household chores and limit hours of screen time,” he says.
The report card was developed by researchers at several leading Australian universities and research institutes, and supported by the National Heart Foundation of Australia and Exercise and Sports Science Australia. It assigns letter grades* to 12 different indicators of physical activity. Grades received include:
- D- for overall physical activity levels
- B- for organised sport and physical activity participation
- D for active transportation (such as riding or walking to school)
- D- for sedentary behaviours (including screen time)
*Key to grades:
A = Australia is succeeding with a majority of children and young people (81-100%)
B = Australia is succeeding with well over half of children and young people (61-80%)
C = Australia is succeeding with about half of children and young people (41-60%)
D = Australia is succeeding with some but less than half of children and young people (21-40%)
F = Australia is succeeding with very few children and young people (0-20%)