Welsh campaigns to promote physical activity scrutinised as quarter of reception-age children deemed obese

The Welsh Government's record in encouraging children and young people to exercise and its comms to support this aim will come under scrutiny in a new inquiry by the Welsh Assembly.

Campaigns to encourage fitness in Welsh young people are under scrutiny by the Senedd (pic credit: Brenda Carson/Thinkstock)
Campaigns to encourage fitness in Welsh young people are under scrutiny by the Senedd (pic credit: Brenda Carson/Thinkstock)

Concerns over the levels of obesity and a lack of exercise among under-18s have prompted the inquiry by the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, looking at the physical activity of children and young people.

The committee said: "Physical inactivity is considered to be the fourth leading risk factor for mortality. The Welsh Government has previously estimated the cost of physical inactivity to Wales as being £650m per year. We know that active children are more likely to become active adults and we also know the importance of physical activity in tackling obesity."

Comms is a key issue being addressed by the inquiry, launched last week. It will look at the effectiveness of Welsh Government programmes and policies in promoting physical activity amongst children and young people, as well as whether they represent value for money.

Dr Dai Lloyd AM, chair of the committee, said: "We want to look at how well the Welsh Government’s efforts to increase physical activity are working."

He added: "More than a quarter of reception-age children in Wales are overweight or obese. We also know that these children are significantly more likely than the Welsh average to be obese, if they live in areas of higher deprivation."

The majority of children in Wales are failing to do the recommended amount of at least 60 minutes daily activity, and despite many initiatives to promote physical activity and sport, "there is limited evidence that children and young people are getting more physically active, and obesity levels are still on the rise", according to the Welsh Assembly’s research service.

Welsh Government officials are expected to be called to give evidence to the inquiry in the coming months on the progress of Government programmes, such as Change4Life Wales.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We are working hard to tackle physical inactivity in children through programmes including active travel and a range of school-based initiatives. We also work closely with Public Health Wales and Sport Wales to encourage children to be more active. The latest figures in the Sport Wales school survey shows that 48% of pupils in years 3-11 participate in sport three or more times a week, outside of school. This is an increase of 8% on previous figures."

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