More evidence has emerged that getting young people into sport does not get them fit and healthy. Riding a bike for transport is a better focus.
A new study has found a minimal contribution of organised sports participation to overall moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) among adolescents, irrespective of whether the number, intensity, frequency and type of sport was considered.
The study was conducted by Deakin University’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition.
It reported that policies focused only on sport may have a minimal impact on population physical activity levels.
"National strategies to increase physical activity among youth may need to have a greater focus on active living, such as active transport policies and environmental infrastructure that is conducive to recreational and incidental physical activity, in addition to sport,” the study concluded.
The study used survey and accelerometry data from students in secondary school in Melbourne.
It found that sports participation contributed less than 4% to overall moderate-to-vigorous activity by the adolescents.
The findings raise major questions over the government funding of sports activity for young people, as it is predicated on contributing to health via increase rates of physical activity.
"The Australian government has had a sustained commitment to investing in and promoting sports participation among children and adolescents; since 2015, approximately $160 million has been invested into funding the Sporting Schools Initiative,” the study says
"The 2036 ‘aspiration for Australian sport’ aims to reverse rates of physical inactivity, overweight and obesity.
"To achieve this goal, it is anticipated that local, state and Commonwealth government investment will increase incrementally by a total of $400–600 million annually.
“Notwithstanding the range of known benefits of sports participation, with just 50% of adolescents participating in any sport and the small contribution of sport frequency to overall MVPA (<4%), our findings challenge youth sport as a primary government strategy to increase population levels of youth physical activity and adherence to the physical activity guidelines.”