Damning new report fails Aussie children’s physical activity levels and change must start now

A world first global report published today by the World Health Organisation in the Lancet Child Adolescent Health has provided damning statistics that Australia adolescents are alarmingly disgraceful in terms of physical activity. In fact, Australia was one of the worst performers in the global report, ranking 140 out of 146 countries.

“These results should be a major wake up call for governments at all levels. Our children are the ones who will have to live with the lasting effects of physical inactivity, and it’s about time we took meaningful action,” says Anita Hobson-Powell, Chief Executive Officer of Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA).

Physical activity is an important component of developing healthy children and plays a key role in any child’s physical, social and mental well-being. 

The report, looking at trends in physical activity among 11-17-year-olds, has found that 89% of young Australians do not meet current recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity per day. 

“This is a statistic that we should be highly concerned about and should push our leaders to develop a National Physical Activity Plan that addresses this key issue. The Federal Government is currently developing a 10-year National Preventative Health Strategy and an Obesity Strategy, and we believe that physical activity needs to be more prominent in these plans,” adds Anita.

“The development and resourcing of a National Physical Activity Plan, alongside funding for its implementation, should be a next priority. We need our leadership to understand that changing physical activity levels must be addressed in all key areas of society including infrastructure, education, transport and social services.” 

“As a nation, we need to be provided with access to appropriate and accessible services and programs. Currently the Federal Government is investing below 2% on prevention programs – this needs to be pushed to a minimum of 5%.”

With 50% of adult Australians having at least 1 of 8 common chronic conditions (cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental health, arthritis, back pain, lung disease, asthma, diabetes), and 23% having at least two or more, $467 million is spent on health every day. 

“By addressing this issue with our youth head on, we are setting up our children for a healthier future. The sooner we can instil good physical activity behaviours the sooner we will reap the benefits across our society.”

Key Facts:

For optimal health benefits, children and young people (aged 5–17 years) should achieve the recommended balance of high levels of physical activity, low levels of sedentary behaviour, and sufficient sleep each day. A healthy 24 hours includes:

Accumulating 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day involving mainly aerobic activities.
Several hours of a variety of light physical activities.
Activities that are vigorous, as well as those that strengthen muscle and bone, should be incorporated at least 3 days per week.


For more information:
Zoe Bickerstaffe
ESSA Marketing & Communications Manager
E: Zoe.Bickerstaffe@essa.org.au 
P: 07 3171 3335