13 Feb 2019

Govt to push for children to walk, scoot and bike to school

2:09 pm on 13 February 2019

The government is looking at having more than half of children walking, cycling or scooting to school by 2030.

girl goes to school on a scooter. back view

Photo: 123RF

It is one way to increase physical activity and will be presented at a symposium in Dunedin today.

The proposal is part of New Zealand's response to a World Health Organisation Global Action plan to increase the number of people who are regularly physically active, by 15 percent by 2030.

Documents prepared by the Ministry of Health show these could include having 60 percent of school children participating in what it calls "active transport" in journey's to and from school by 2030.

Adults could be encouraged to increase their physical activity by 15 percent from a 2015 baseline by 2030, as well as increasing physical activity among Māori, Pacific and Asian populations.

It's estimated physical inactivity costs the country $1.3 billion in direct and indirect costs in 2010.

Regular physical activity among adults has declined in the past decade, dropping from 52 percent in 2006/2007 to 50 percent in 2016/17.

At the same time the percentage of adults who do no or little physical activity has increased from 10 percent in 2006/07 to 13.4 percent in 2016/17.

The Ministry of Health said regular physical activity in children developed life long physical, social and emotional abilities, resilience and creativity.

It is also important for healthy weight gain, mental health, behaviour, improved movement, competence and decision-making skills and brain development.

The Ministry of Health and Sport NZ are working with other agencies to develop a cross agency approach to increasing physical activity and a New Zealand response to World Health Organisation's plan.

Associate Health Minister Julie Ann Genter declined to comment.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said today's symposium was a chance to update how the project was going.

It said no formal goals, timeframes, budgets or measurements have been developed or agreed at this point.