Physical Inactivity Crisis

07 November, 2015

Let’s check some raw data on childhood obesity today:

  1. The number of overweight or obese infants and young children (aged 0 to 5 years) increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 42 million in 2013. In the WHO African Region alone the number of overweight or obese children increased from 4 to 9 million over the same period. (Source: WHO; World Health Organization)
  2. Canadian kids are spending an average of 7 hours and 48 minutes a day in front of television, video games and computer screens. (Source:
  3. Inactivity imposes economic costs of €80.4 billion per year to the EU-28 through four major non-communicable diseases (coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, colorectal and breast cancer), and through the indirect costs of inactivity-related mood and anxiety disorders. (Source: The economic cost of physical inactivity in Europe An ISCA / Cebr report June 2015)
  4. More than half of all Europeans face overweight and obesity problems. Almost 17 percent of all Europeans are obese – the least in Romania (only 8 percent) and the most in Hungary (28 percent). (Source: OECD data 2014)


Here are some related highlights of the recent Play the Game conference (October 2015), from a parallel session hosted by ICSSPE on the physical inactivity crisis in Europe written by Rachel Payne.* Our colleague Richard Bailey concluded the session by outlining 10 steps to reversing the physical inactivity epidemic, including helping children “develop a portfolio of movement skills” at the earliest possible age. He advised against “fiddling” with policies that do not focus on creating a culture of movement among children from the outset.

“If physical inactivity is the problem that people like myself and others say it is, what we’re doing in policy terms is actually like shifting deck chairs around on the Titanic (for aesthetic purposes, only for the ship to sink) – which is fiddling with trivialities,” he said.

“If you look at the evidence, the simple truth is that we have a window of opportunity to intervene in the promotion of physical activity, and that is for the first 10 years of [a person’s] life… Physical activity in childhood without movement skill acquisition is pointless – actually it’s worse than that because boredom plus pointless physical activity means that they’ve gone.”

Indeed, there are already too many policy documents, recommendations and statements on why, how, and with whom to fight against inactivity. But the answer is only one. Start moving. Start checking your kindergartens and schools on their moderate to vigorous 40-60 minutes physical activity lesson daily. By not doing so, they are mis-educating children and negatively influencing their healthy lifelong habits and general wellbeing.

If you are willing to take action, then the best way is to start with Playness curriculum in your local kindergarten. It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s systematic. Our experts and our children will lead you through weekly lessons in a very user friendly manner. There is no need any more for several pages of boring details in lesson planning. By clicking a 1 minute Playness video, the teacher is able to lead a class of moderrate to vigorous physical activity.

by Milan Hosta, PhD

* ‘Veil of Ignorance’

More on Fundamentals of Playness PedagogyPlay as a tool for social intervention

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