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HBSC Network: Physical activity trends in 32 countries from 2002 to 2010

Physical activity is essential in youth for long- and short-term physical and mental health. It is associated with improved academic performance, and lower rates of depression and cancer as an adult. Low levels of activity in youth is associated with obesity in adult life, a serious public health issue with long-term costs globally.

International guidelines state that adolescents should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. A recent analysis of HBSC survey data revealed that a majority of young people across 32 countries do not meet this recommendation.

Comparing data from 2002, 2006 and 2010 the researchers found a slight increase in the proportion of boys and girls meeting the guidelines. However these trends we not evident in all countries. Finland saw the greatest improvements and Lithuania saw the greatest decline in rates of daily physical activity rates.

Boys are still significantly more likely to report being physically active than girls and younger children more likely than older adolescents. 

A similar direction of trend was found in boys and girls in a majority of countries. However diverging gender trends were shown in 11 countries (Austria, Croatia, Greenland, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and USA).

Children from affluent families were also shown to be more likely to spend at least 1 hour a day being physically active.

The authors underscored the importance of cross-national data to shed further light into trends for health surveillance purposes and to and inform national policies and interventions.

The conclusions reveal that with encouraging signs of general progress, further investment is badly needed at national and international levels to increase physical activity participation among young people and reduce future health burden associated with inactivity.

This publication is accompanied by a data visualisation with interactive features. Use the tool and read the article here

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contact: Mr Joe Hancock

item 2882
[04-04-2015 to 30-07-2015]


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