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22.08.13

‘Yawning gap’ between boys’ and girls’ exercise

Half of children are not getting their recommended daily physical activity, new research suggests. A study at University College London (UCL) found that 51% of 6,500 children were moderately or vigorously active for an hour each day. 

There is a clear division between boys and girls, with 63% of boys but only 38% of girls doing the recommended amount. 

The study, published in the BMJ Open, used real-time monitoring from 2008-09. Children wore an accelerometer to measure their activity, rather than relying on self-reporting. 

Professor Carol Dezateux, one of the lead authors, said: “There is a big yawning gap between girls and boys. We need to really think about how we are reaching out to girls. The school playground is an important starting point. Often you will find it dominated by boys playing football. 

“The findings are particularly worrying because seven-year-olds are likely to become less active as they get older, not more.” 

Dr Ann Hoskins, of Public Health England, said: This study highlights that there is still much to do to keep children and young people active as they grow older, especially girls. The new school year is the perfect time to make healthy changes, swapping short car or bus journeys with walking or scooting to school.”

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