Belgian children get too little exercise, says report

Summary

Belgium falls at the bottom of a list of 38 countries when it comes to the average time spent moving, according to a new report

Education action plan

Belgian children are not getting enough exercise, according to a report released by the universities of Leuven and Ghent and the Scientific Institute of Public Health (WIV). The report examined the situation in 38 countries.

Belgium’s score is at the bottom of the list, together with China, Chile and Qatar. While Belgian toddlers do well – 96% move more than the average three hours per day – children get less exercise as they get older.

Only 6.5% of local six- to nine-year-olds reach the norm of one hour of moderate to intensive exercise per day. Only 2.4% between the ages of 10 and 17 achieve the norm of one hour a day.

Interestingly, girls do much worse than boys, suggesting that they are less encouraged to take part in sport. Only 1.6% of girls between six and nine and 0.5% of teenage girls reach the average, compared to 11.3% and 4.2% of the boys in the same age categories.

“Girls are underrepresented in sports clubs and also run around less on the playground,” said Jan Seghers, a physical activity and health expert at the University of Leuven.

Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits said that she hopes to have an action plan regarding exercise and healthy food at school ready by the end of the year. The plan will address differences in age groups and between boys and girls.

Photo: Ingimage