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Children's inactivity 'puts health at risk'

Almost half of children in Scotland are physically inactive and putting their health at risk, Tom McCabe, the Deputy Health Minister, said last week in an Executive debate on inactivity.

Re-emphasising its 20-year strategy to up fitness levels, Mr McCabe said ministers had already launched a review of physical education, promoted active schools co-ordinators in primary and safer routes to school. The Executive's new strategy highlights walking as the key to improved fitness.

"You may be surprised to learn that of those people who participate in the minimum amounts of activity required for health, only 8 per cent of their overall activity comes from sport," he revealed.

Mr McCabe said that while developing fitness in the gym or playing sports can contribute to an active life, for the majority of people it was more important to build in daily activities that make a difference to health.

MSPs called for minimum amounts of PE for all pupils and encouragement for pupils to walk to school. Robin Harper, of the Greens, said 30 years ago 80 per cent of children walked or cycled to school and 20 per cent took the bus or car. These figures were now reversed.

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