Covid Scotland: Child obesity and high screen time may have worsened during pandemic, say experts
A report commissioned by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance (AHKGA) compared 57 countries from six continents, looking at trends in child and adolescent physical activity and produced a grading matrix.
This saw Scotland achieve a B- grade for community and environment, and sport and physical activity, but F for Recreational Screen Time.
And children in Scotland face socio-economic inequalities in low physical activity, high levels of screen time and high levels of obesity as early as primary one, experts found.
Research found while policies on activity and diet are of a high quality, they are not always fully implemented and there is a lack of specific policy on screen time.
The report recommends physical activity should be promoted early in life and often and ways to incorporate physical activity through active play and limited screen time should be promoted.
The study showed disparities between the most and least deprived areas of Scotland.
Just more than half of children (53 per cent) in the most deprived areas were found not to be engaging in sport, compared with 18 per cent in the least deprived, while just 4 per cent in the most deprived areas, compared with 19 per cent in the least deprived, had been on outdoor excursions in the previous 12 months.
Half in the most deprived areas perceived their communities as safe, compared with 72 per cent in the least deprived.
The University of Strathclyde has led on the study, with the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Stirling and Robert Gordon also involved.
While the full extent of the pandemic on the physical health and activity of children is not yet clear, there are concerning signs of increased screen time and childhood obesity, experts say.
Professor John Reilly, of Strathclyde’s School of Psychological Sciences & Health, said: “The Global Matrix 4.0 represents the largest compilation of information to date on levels of physical activity of children and adolescents, and the data show a failing grade across the world.
“Scotland is no exception, and things did not improve in the decade prior to Covid-19.”
Dr Farid Bardid, a Lecturer in Strathclyde’s School of Education, said: “This is particularly concerning as these low levels of physical activity and high levels of screen time may have worsened following the Covid-19 pandemic.”
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