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  • Comments: 0
  • 02 April 2014 00:00
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  • Last Modified: 02 April 2014 04:19
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Physically inactive young people set to cost UK economy £53 billion

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Physical inactivity among today’s young people aged 11-25 will cost the UK economy a staggering £53.3 billion according to a major new report.

The new report titled ‘The Inactivity Time Bomb’ was been published this month by national sports charity StreetGames and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

It shows that each physically inactive young person costs UK economy around £12,000 over their lifetime which means that the UK economy stands to take a £53 billion hit from people currently in the 11-25 age bracket. 

Around £8.1 billion of these costs are directly related to spending on healthcare that will be needed to deal with the burden of Type II diabetes, chronic heart disease, stroke and colon cancer among this cohort as they age. 

This equates to £1,800 in additional healthcare costs for each child and young person who is currently inactive.

The cost of reduced quality of life and lower life expectancy is even higher, at nearly £10,000 per child or young person. 

This amounts to £45.2 billion across the total population of children and young people who are currently failing to meet recommended levels of activity. 

Overall, girls and young women are less active with 56% failing to meet recommended activity levels compared to 39% of boys and young men. 

Critically, children of both genders from lower income households are less likely to take part in sport – or in formal sports activities such as organised team games of rugby, cricket, netball, swimming, gymnastics, aerobics and tennis.

There is also a negative relationship between household income and household spending on recreational sport with the poorest households spending a tenth of the amount the richest households do on sport activities, services and equipment each week - equating to less than £2 per week. 

"This report lays bare the economic and social cost we will pay if we don’t get our young people moving,” said StreetGames CEO Jane Ashworth, whose charity commissioned the study.
"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 work being undertaken by many different organisations like StreetGames tackle the issue and help address the sporting inequality gap. 

The latest Sport England data shows that since April 2012, the number of young people from the lowest socio-economic groups taking part in sport every week has risen from 1,140,600 to 1,191,700. 

The report found that a 1% increase in the number of children and young people meeting physical activity targets could save £800 million in today’s prices over their lifetimes.

"We are investing up to £20 million in initiatives like StreetGames and Doorstep Sports Clubs to give young people from disadvantaged communities the chance to get active and play sport in a way that appeals to them,” said Sport England Chief Executive Jennie Price. 

"We are also challenging many of the other organisations we fund to learn from StreetGames' success in engaging young people who may feel the conventional sport sector is not for them.”

The findings of the report have been welcomed by Public Health England.

"This report is a welcome contribution to the evidence base by demonstrating how the cost to our communities of insufficient physical activity amongst young people is borne socially and economically, not just in health terms,” said Public Health England’s Director of Children and Young People Dr Ann Hoskins.

"I also applaud the focus on inequalities, as levels of inactivity are not uniform across our society.

"We need to have particular focus on individuals and communities with the lowest levels of physical activity and therefore greatest need. 

"The work of StreetGames exemplifies the need to recognise, support and harness the diversity of forms and places in which people do physical activity in communities. 

"We look forward to continue working with them and others to enable everybody to be active every day.”

To view the full report, Click Here
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