Childhood Physical Inactivity reaches crisis levels around the globe

29 November, 2018


*Report compares 49 countries; says 75% of countries have failing physical

activity grades*

*NOVEMBER 27, 2018 – ADELAIDE, Australia –* Children around the world are

not moving enough too maintain healthy growth and development, according to

a global report released today.

The report by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance (AHKGA) compared 49

countries from six continents to assess global trends in childhood physical

activity in developed and developing nations, resulting in the “Global

Matrix 3.0†comparison of grades.

The report revealed that modern lifestyles – increases in screen time, the

growing urbanization of communities and the rise in automation of

previously manual tasks –“ are contributing to a pervasive public health

problem that must be recognized as a global priority.

“Global trends, including excessive screen time, are contributing to a

generation of inactive children and putting them on a dangerous path,â€

said Professor Mark Tremblay, President of the AHKGA and Senior Scientist

at the CHEO Research Institute in Canada. “We have a collective

responsibility to change this because inactive children are at risk for

adverse physical, mental, social and cognitive health problems. This

generation will face a range of challenges, including the impacts of

climate change, increasing globalization, and the consequences of rapid

technological change. They will need to become habitually physically active

in order to grow into healthy, resilient adults who can survive and thrive

in a changing world.â€

The AHKGA international comparison involved 517 experts who produced 49 country report cards, grading 10 common indicators related to the physical activity of children and youth. The resulting report examines global patterns and highlights how our changing world is affecting children's physical activity levels. Increases in screen time and a growing reliance on technology are taking up crucial time that could be better spent engaged in a wide range of physical activities, and an increased use of motorized transport is changing physical activity levels globally.

Pushing back against these lifestyle shifts requires social engineering, not just built engineering, and the challenges vary depending on each country's stage of development, said Dr Tremblay. It will take many facets of society working together to shift behaviours to preserve and promote our children’s right to play and be active. We hope this report will be a call to action for societies around the world.â€

*Learning from each other*

Countries with the most active children and youth overall, including

Slovenia, Zimbabwe and Japan, each rely on very different approaches to get

kids moving but what is consistent among all of them is that physical

activity is driven by pervasive cultural norms. Being active is not just a

choice, but a way of life.

- Slovenia obtained the best grades for Overall Physical Activity

(A−), Family and Peers (B+), and Government (A), and received an overall

average grade of B.

- A notable feature in Slovenia is the importance of sport for the

culture of this almost 30-year old country as “*Slovenes tend to

view sports as an effective tool in fostering national identity among

citizens and making successful global identity claims*.â€

- Zimbabwe reports above-average grades in Overall Physical Activity

(C+) and Sedentary Behaviours (B).

- Overall physical activity is mostly affected by active

transportation which, for the majority of the children in Zimbabwe, is a

necessity in everyday life.

- Japan had the best grades for Active Transportation (A−) and

Physical Fitness (A), and had no grades lower than C−.

- Japan has a highly established “walking to school practice†that has been implemented since the School Education Act enforcement order,

enacted in 1953. It states that public elementary schools should

be located

within no more than 4 km, and for public junior high schools no

more than 6

km from the student’s home.

“There much we can learn from each other to improve the grades around the

world,†said Professor Peter Katzmarzyk, AHKGA Vice-President and

Associate Executive Director for Population and Public Health Sciences at

the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“Physical inactivity is a global concern and can no longer be ignored.

For the good of our children’s health and futures, we need to build

physical activity into all societies, and change social norms to get kids


*About the Global Matrix*

The global comparisons were led by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance

(AHKGA; ), a not-for-profit organization

dedicated to powering the movement to get kids moving. Each country’s

research process to determine grades was based on the framework from the

ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Ten

common indicators were compared: Overall Physical Activity, Organized Sport

and Physical Activity, Active Play, Active Transportation, Sedentary

Behaviour, Physical Fitness, Family and Peers, School, Community and

Environment, and Government. Report Cards from each of the 49 countries, as

well as the results of the global comparisons, were presented at the

opening plenary of the Movement to Move Conference

<> in Adelaide, Australia and published in

the Journal of Physical Activity and Health

<> on November 27, 2018.

Complete details of the Global Matrix 3.0, each country’s grades, report

cards, priorities for action, quotes from country leaders and more are

available at The “Global Matrix 1.0†(2014,

15 countries) and “Global Matrix 2.0†(2016, 38 countries) findings are

also available on the AHKGA website.

The AHKGA is committed to informing, guiding and facilitating solutions to

the global childhood inactivity crisis. This Global Matrix 3.0 confirms

there are challenges for children, communities and cultures around the

world. Identified priorities for action include:

- Creating a global movement for comprehensive school physical activity

programs that support and allow ALL children and youth to meet the physical

activity guidelines through a variety of strategic interventions (e.g.,

active recess options, physical activity breaks, compulsory physical


- Creating a global culture of active kids / active people in all

settings, prioritizing active transportation above other modes of


- Investing in comprehensive social interventions and research to

improve implementation and uptake strategies to manage recreational screen

time among children and youth.

- Developing a standardized global surveillance system of the physical

activity and related indicators among children and youth to fill the

current gaps, especially in low- and medium-income countries.

*Further information on solutions to “improve the grade†is available


*For more information, please contact:*

Dr. Mark Tremblay

President, AHKGA

Aynsley Morris

Director of Communications, CHEO Research Institute

+1-613-737-7600 x4144

*Please see the Global Matrix 3.0 tab for a complete table of grades from

all countries.*



*Stay Active,*

*Chalchisa Abdeta (BSc, MPH)*

*Country Contact for Ethiopia*

*Global Observatory for Physical Activity-GoPA! , and*

*Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance (AHKGA)*

*Mobile: +25(0)922005260*

*Twitter: @caaliphysio*

*Harar, Ethiopia*

CHIFA profile: Chalchisa Abdeta is Physical Activity Expert & Researcher at the Haramaya University in Ethiopia. Professional interests: Physical Activity. caaliphysio AT