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Physical inactivity costs UK economy £53bn

By Tom Walker    01 Apr 2014
Young people in the highest earning households are more active than those living in underprivileged environments

Physical inactivity among young people could cost the UK economy up to £53bn.

The figure comes from a report - commissioned by sports charity StreetGames and compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) - that estimates that each physically inactive person costs the economy £12,000 over their lifetime.

The report also states that children in poorer households are more inactive.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of children living in households with the lowest income fail to meet the recommended level of 30 minutes of daily physical activity. In the highest-income households only a third of children fail to reach the recommended level.

Jane Ashworth CEO of StreetGames, said: "This report lays bare the economic and social cost we will pay if we don't get our young people moving.

"If we fail to address these issues it is akin to sitting on a time bomb. Helping young people in the most difficult circumstances take up a sporting habit for life is one of the most important things we can do."

The report is the latest to suggest more emphasis should be placed on increasing physical activity among young people to improve overall health - rather than tackling the single issue of obesity.

In February, the government - in partnership with the mayor of London - launched the Move More, Live More campaign, that aims to cut physical inactivity among all age groups.

In November 2013 ukactive, the industry association for the active leisure industry,launched its Turning The Tide Of Inactivity campaign, aiming to cut inactivity levels by 1 per cent each year for the next five years.

Dr William Bird, CEO of Intelligent Health, said: "Diseases like diabetes are on the increase, yet 80 per cent of cases are preventable by making simple lifestyle changes.

"Our bodies were designed to be active and as soon as we become sedentary our ageing process accelerates and we create a perfect environment to initiate disease. Getting active can also improve mental health: active young people are more alert, and less likely to suffer from stress or depression.

"Physical activity is fundamental to young people developing normally and leading happy lives. We have to innovate and get young people moving earlier in their lives and then maintain that habit throughout adolescence and beyond."

• For the report, Cebr studied previous research - such as the Culture and Sport Evidence Programme's (CASE), July 2010 technical report ( Understanding the value of engagement in culture and sport ) and the Office for National Statistics' Family Spending Survey.

To read more and to download the full report, click here.

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