Obesity Indicators 2014

This publication reports the latest available data for 16 indicators selected to monitor progress for the Prevention of Obesity Route Map. Most indicators are updated up to 2013, but for some indicators data is more or less up-to-date than this.

This document is part of a collection

Proportion of children meeting physical activity guidelines

Indicator Source: Scottish Health Survey


  • In 2013, 75% of children met the physical activity recommendations (including school-based activity). This is a significant increase on the figures for 2008 and 2009 (71%). Boys (78%) remain significantly more likely than girls (72%) to meet the guideline.
  • Prior to 2008, data were only collected excluding school-based activity. Using this measure, the proportion of children meeting the recommendations has been broadly similar in the 2008-2013 period (62-67%) to the results for 1998 (65%).
  • Boys are generally more physically active at all ages, but the difference is particularly pronounced in the early teenage years. Only 51% of girls aged 13-15 meet the recommendations (including school based activity), compared to 68% of boys. A similar gap was observed when school-based activity was excluded, so it is activity outside of school which is significantly lower for girls than boys at this age.

Proportion of children (aged 2-15) meeting physical activity recommendations (including activity at school) 2008-2013

Proportion of children (aged 2-15) meeting physical activity recommendations (excluding activity at school) 1998-2013


Desired Outcome:
Increased energy expenditure.

Accumulating 1 hour or more of moderate intensity physical activity every day of the week. The questions in the Scottish Health Survey were changed in 2008 to include school-based physical activity. It is possible to look at trends since 1998 excluding school-based activity.

Relevant Route Map action:
Early years actions, specifically less sedentary activities for young children.

Geography available:
National, Health Board.

Equalities data:
Breakdowns by four equalities groups are possible (sexual orientation and religion are not asked of children), but not all are available annually.

The aim of this indicator is to monitor the proportion of children (aged 2-15 years) meeting current physical activity recommendation which is to accumulate 60 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week. Although surveys indicate no significant association between children's activity and their BMI research suggests that focusing on physical activity is important as part of a wider weight management strategy for children. The current recommendations are designed to promote general health outcomes and weight maintenance. The recommended level of activity for weight loss is higher.

Factors influencing this indicator:

  • Availability of safe outdoor places.
  • Access to leisure facilities.


Email: Daniel Adams

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