Quarter of adults 'get less than 30 minutes of exercise a week'


One in four adults gets less than 30 minutes of exercise a week, with women more likely to be inactive, a new report shows.

NHS Digital's annual review of obesity in England also found high levels of obesity among adults and children, with only around a quarter of adults eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Some 26% of all adults were classified as inactive (fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a week), with women more likely to be inactive (27%) than men (24%).

People who are long-term unemployed or have never worked are most likely not to take exercise (37%), compared to 17% of those in professional and managerial jobs.

Almost a third (31%) of people in South Tyneside, Leicester, Barking and Dagenham and Rochdale are inactive while the lowest rates were found in Wokingham (13%) and Brighton and Hove (14%), the report said.

In 2015, 58% of women and 68% of men were overweight or obese. Obesity has risen from 15% of adults in 1993 to 27% in 2015.

Meanwhile, the prevalence of morbid obesity has more than tripled since 1993, to reach 2% of men and 4% of women in 2015.

The report also showed high numbers of children being overweight, with more than one in five children in Reception class being overweight or obese in 2015/16, and more than one in three in Year 6.

Yesterday, Public Health England (PHE) published new voluntary targets for the food industry to reduce sugar levels by 20% by 2020 in nine categories of food popular with children.

The NHS Digital report found only 26% of adults ate the recommended five portions a day in 2015. Some 47% of men, and 42% of women ate fewer than three portions a day.

But 52% of 15-year-olds said they hit the recommended five a day.

The data also showed there were 525,000 hospital admissions in England in 2015/16 where obesity was recorded as a factor. Two in three patients (67%) were female.

Some 6,438 weight loss surgical procedures were also carried out.

A spokesman for the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of over 40 health charities, campaign groups and medical colleges, said: "As waistlines increase, so do the chances of developing serious life-threatening conditions like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, putting further strain on our already overstretched health service.

"This data is a stark reminder of exactly why we need measures like the sugar reduction programme and the soft drinks industry levy to help create a healthier environment for all."

Dr Justin Varney, Public Health England's national lead for adult health and well-being, said: "We need many more adults and children to be more physically active. Little and often makes a big difference - just 10 minutes extra walking each day can improve a person's health and their overall quality of life."

Chris Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Being inactive can dramatically increase your risk of having a deadly heart attack or stroke.

"But the good news is it's never too late to start being more active which can help you control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and improve your mental health.

"The recommended 150 minutes of physical activity a week may seem like a lot but you can break it down into 10-minute sessions and gradually build up."