Scottish youngsters 'most active'

Image caption,
Scottish children are most likely to take part in sports and physical activities

Scottish seven-year-olds are more active than other children in the UK of the same age - and are less likely to be considered obese, a study has found.

Researchers are tracking the development of 15,000 youngsters born in the UK between 2000 and 2002, including more than 1,600 in Scotland.

They found that Scottish children were most likely to take part in sports and physical activities.

The findings are from London University's Institute of Education.

Its latest survey of the Millennium Cohort was carried out in 2008/09.

It found more than half of Scots seven-year-olds (55%) walked to school each day.

In Northern Ireland it was only one in four children of the same age.

Almost half of Scottish children surveyed said they were involved in organised after-school or weekend activities at least twice a week.

Some 27% took part in sport less than once a week or never, but the figure was higher in the other countries of the UK.

The researchers found there were fewer overweight and obese children in Scotland and England than in Northern Ireland and Wales.

Five per cent of Scottish seven-year-olds and 6% of English youngsters were said to be obese, compared with 7.5% of Welsh children and 8% of Northern Irish children.

Experts said the results did not necessarily mean that children in Northern Ireland and Wales were heavier simply because they were less active than Scots.

Children's education

Study director Professor Heather Joshi said: "Activity levels are only one of many influences on children's weight about which our study is collecting information.

"It is also possible that children's weight affects how active they are."

The findings appear in a report published by the Institute's Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

The report also looked at other areas, such as children's education, their family backgrounds and happiness.

It revealed that 53% of Scots seven-year-olds are living with married natural parents - a lower percentage than in Northern Ireland and England, but higher than in Wales.

Experts also found that the Scottish children examined had the lowest rate of income poverty at the age of seven - 26% compared with 33% in Wales.

More than four in 10 seven-year-olds in Scotland said they always feel happy, compared with 35% of English children.

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