A long-term study of physical activity in children, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has found that sitting is replacing physical activity from the time children start school.
It suggests that even though adolescence is thought to be the time when children turn their back on exercise, it happens much earlier at around the age of seven.
The study was carried out in Gateshead and the children who took part were tracked between 2006 and 2015.
Experts from Newcastle and Glasgow tracked the activity levels of children over eight years using monitors worn for a week at a time.
Researchers found that, on average:
– when they were 7, boys spent 75 minutes a day exercising; this fell to 51 when they were 15.
– when they were 7, girls spent 63 minutes a day exercising; this fell to 41 at age 15.
However, one in five boys bucked the trend by maintaining the same level of activity through to their teenage years. Researchers noted these boys were the ones who started off with the highest levels of exercise when they were 7.
The news comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced during his first Budget last week that schools will get £1bn to spend on sports activities and promote healthy lifestyles amongst pupils. The funding comes from the sugar tax introduced by former Chancellor George Osborne last year.