Australian children are ranked as some of the least active in the world when it comes to physical exertion, according to a new report.
The inaugural Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card, compiled by researchers from Australian universities and endorsed by The Heart Foundation, found 80 per cent of children between the ages of five and 17 were not getting daily exercise.
The national report card ranks the physical activity of Australian children against 14 other nations.
Lead Author Natasha Schranz says Australian kids are not spending time outdoors because of television and computers.
“We can’t just rely on parents to make sure they’re not using too much technology. We need to make sure there’s a national conversation around increasing physical activity in other areas,” she said.
“We need everyone to come together in a coordinated approach and talk about this issue.”
The report says 80 per cent of Australians aged between 12 and 17 look at screens more than the recommended limit of two hours per day.
Dr Schranz also says although there is still a high number of children participating in organised sport, it is not enough to keep them healthy.
“We need to remember that there are so many other domains of physical activity that kids might be missing out on,” she said.
“So things like active play – getting out and kicking a ball against the wall or running around the playground with the dog, walking to and from different destinations including to and from school, as well as limiting screen time and sedentary behaviours.”
The report found the “built environment” offered spaces for young people to get active but Dr Schranz said it was important those spaces were well maintained.
“We got an A- for community in the built environment but we need to make sure they’re accessible for all families and children so they’re safe, and parents are comfortable letting their children visit these places,” she said.
The report marks the physical activity levels of Australia’s children as a D-, but organised sport participation gets a B-.
The report also says fewer children are walking or riding to school.