England Report Card 2016_Active Play

published by AHKE16

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Active Play
2014: INC   2016: INC
% of children/youth engaging in daily unstructured/unorganised active play
A: 81%-100%      B: 61%-80%      C: 41%-60%      D: 21%-40%      F: 0%-20%      INC: Incomplete
Key Findings
Similar to the 2014 Report Card, an incomplete grade was awarded for Active Play because there is a lack of nationally representative data on children's play in England. There are also difficulties in defining and measuring this behaviour.
Why another INC grade?
Despite this, young children are likely engaging in active play
However, active play declines with age [1]
Data are therefore needed on adolescents' unstructured physical activity too
This is particularly important given that active play may help to reduce health inequalities [2]
So what data are available?
But 50% of parents/guardians won't allow their children to play outside unsupervised [5]
11 year olds
At least once or twice a week*
5 year olds
of 2-15 year olds engaged in 'informal activity' at least once in the past week [3]
Data are needed on the % of those engaging in such activity more frequently (e.g. daily)
Data from the MCS show the differences in younger vs. older children [4]:
3 or more times a week
Consisting of: active play, cycling, gardening, housework etc. and therefore not on active play specifically
These data were therefore not used for grading purposes
% of children who reported active play with a parent [4]:
81% of 5-11 year olds would prefer to play outside than watch TV [5]
Data needed on play with friends, siblings and other children
The positive association between outdoor time and physical activity is well documented,[7] thus interventions which promote children's outdoor play are important. Strategies which aim to alleviate parental safety concerns, particularly with regards to children's independent activity, may be necessary.[8] The after school period provides an important opportunity for active play,[9] though other behaviours (e.g. homework and screen-based entertainment) might displace physically active play during this period.[10]
Areas for future research
Due to the age related decline in active play,[1] it is necessary to understand the age groups that should be included in this indicator.[6] Appropriate age specific guidelines should be provided, which would enable a suitable benchmark to be assigned. Different methods for measuring active play need to be assessed so that researchers can use a valid means of measuring active play appropriately. Nationally representative data that utilises such appropriate methods to examine levels of active play is required.
References [1] Byers JA. The biology of human play. Child Dev 1998;69:599-600. [2] Payne S, Townsend N, Foster C. The physical activity profile of active children in England. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2013;10:136. [3] Scholes S, Mindell J. Physical activity in children. In: Craig R, Mindell J, eds. Health Survey for England 2012. Volume 1: Health, Social Care and Lifestyles. Leeds, UK: The Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2013. [4] Goisis A, Sacker A, Kelly Y. Why are poorer children at higher risk of obesity and overweight? A UK cohort study. Eur J Public Health, 2015;26:7-13. [5] Caswell R, Warman T. Play for today. A report into the importance and relevance of play for children and parents in the UK. Halifax, UK: Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, 2014. [6] Standage M, Wilkie HJ, Jago R, et al. Results from England's 2014 report card on physical activity for children and youth. J Phys Act Health 2014;11(suppl 1):S45-50. [7] Sterdt E, Liersch S, Walter U. Correlates of physical activity of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviews. Health Educ J 2014;73:72-89. [8] Jago R, Thompson JL, Page AS, et al. Licence to be active: parental concerns and 10-11-year-old children's ability to be independently physically active. J Public Health (Oxf) 2009;31:472-7. [9] Brockman R, Jago R, Fox KR. The contribution of active play to the physical activity of primary school children. Prev Med 2010;51:144-7. [10] Biddle SJH, Atkin AJ, Cavill N, et al. Correlates of physical activity in youth: a review of quantitative systematic reviews. Int Rev Sport Exerc Psychol 2011;4:25-49.
*These figures include those who reported active play with a parent for 3 or more times a week