Inactive young people to cost UK economy £53bn

Young Inactive Computer Games

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), a provider of independent economic forecasting and analysis, announced on Wednesday that it has conducted research with sports charity StreetGames to produce a report titled The Inactivity Time Bomb, which indicates that physically inactive young people will cost the UK economy GBP53 billion over their lifetimes.

The new StreetGames/Cebr report shows that the cost of physical inactivity in young British people aged between 11 and 18 will include GBP8.1bn directly related to healthcare spending, which will be required to treat Type II diabetes, chronic heart disease, stroke and colon cancer among this age group as they get older. It is equivalent to more than half the total budget of NHS England in 2013-14 and equates to a spend of GBP1,800 on additional healthcare costs for each currently inactive child and young person.

Physically inactive young people may also experience a reduced quality of life and lower life expectancy, which could cost GBP10,000 for each child or young person. This equates to GBP45.2bn across the total population of children and young people who are currently failing to meet official guidelines that they should be spending an hour of every day being physically active.

UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that an hour of physical activity each day can included ‘moderate intensity’ activities, such as playground games, cycling and walking to school, or ‘higher intensity’ activities such as running and football. The StreetGames/Cebr found that almost half of all British 11-25 year olds, or 4.5m individuals, are not meeting the recommended targets.

According to the report, girls and young women are less active, with 56% failing to achieve recommended activity levels, compared to 39% of boys and young men. Young people of both genders from lower income households are less likely to take part in formal sports activities such as organised team games of rugby, cricket or netball, swimming, gymnastics, aerobics and tennis. The difference in household income and the proportion of total household spending on recreational sport was shown to be negative in the report, which indicated that the poorest households spend less than GBP2 per week on sport activities, services and equipment each week, a tenth of that spent by richer households.

Findings from the StreetGames/Cebr report show that a 1% increase in children and young people achieving physical activity targets could save GBP800m in current prices over their lifetimes.

CEO of StreetGames, Jane Ashworth OBE, commented: “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.”

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