Aussie Kids Least Active in the World, Survey Finds

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By Athena Yenko | May 21, 2014 5:09 PM EST

Active Healthy Kids Australia Report card found Aussie kids to be among the world's least active for failing to engage in physical activity at least one hour a day.

The study surveyed 15,000 kids and compared the physical activity of children from 15 different countries. It found that 80 per cent of Aussie kids, mostly 17-year-old, do not exercise. More than 70 per cent find sitting two hours a day watching television more interesting.

The report gathered data from the Bureau of Statistics and the National Secondary Student's Diet and Activity survey. The data gathered showed that only 19 per cent of the surveyed Aussie kids engaged in 60 minutes of physical activity daily.

''It's alarming that a nation committed to sport has fallen so far behind in incidental activity. We are just shutting it out. We need to do more active transport, reduce sitting and television time and incorporate active play into everyday life. For the broader category of young people aged two to 18, 25 per cent met minimum exercise guidelines. Almost three-quarters of children aged two to four spend more than one hour in front of a television or computer daily and about 15 per cent have a screen in their bedroom. But despite this, the average child takes 9140 steps daily and 64 per cent participate in organised sport. Trevor Shilton, the Heart Foundation's physical activity spokesman, said it was ''shocking'' Australia is not faring well against countries such as New Zealand, Mexico and Britain, where almost half of all children meet daily exercise recommendations," lead author and researcher Natasha Schranz told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Schranz calls for schools to introduce a mandatory two and half hours of physical exercise weekly to promote being active among children.

''What we're facing is a potential future health crisis where heart disease, diabetes and obesity rates will rise. This is a wake-up call and there is no sign this will get any better . We're raising a generation of couch potatoes. Far too many kids are being driven to school and spend most of their time sitting when they get there. There is nothing inherent in children that makes them sedentary, which makes this very worrisome, " Trevor Shilton, the Heart Foundation's physical activity spokesman added.

Peter McCue, father of three, Mia, 12 Jenna, 10, and Oliver 15, admitted his children are among those who are least active.

''One of the  considerations of what school they went to was that it was in walking distance. Keeping them active means they make the choices to do more exercise on the weekends. It has become a part of their lives.''

To overcome the challenge, he asked his children to ride the bicycle to their school at Bondi beach. His oldest, Oliver, was instructed to walk to Rose Bay Secondary College.

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