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Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey: 2015

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Background

Just over 7,500 school students in years K, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 were surveyed in 2015 as part of the NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS 2015). SPANS 2015 was the third in a series of school-based surveys of NSW school students.

In 2015 compared with 2010 there were:

  • Increases in children and adolescents meeting the recommended daily serves for fruit (2 serves) and vegetables (5 serves)
  • Increases in meeting recommended daily screen time limits for children
  • Fewer children and adolescents eating take away meals and snacks and confectionery
  • Increases in all fundamental movement skills in children
  • Fewer children eating dinner in front of the television 3-4 or 5-6 times weekly, or doing so daily

In 2015, NSW children and adolescents have:

  • Low levels of physical activity and muscular fitness
  • Low levels of active travel to school
  • High consumption of take-away food, sugar sweetened drinks and junk food
  • Low intake of vegetables
  • High levels of ‘screen time’ (TV, computer, smartphone and tablet devices).
  • Other unfavourable changes include a significant increase in children and adolescents being driven to school, with over half of children and 1 in 5 adolescents being driven to school in 2015.

Some key findings 

Weight  

  • Approximately 1 in 5 (22.9%) primary school children were overweight or obese in 2015. Combined overweight and obesity rates in primary school children in NSW have stabilised between 2010 and 2015.

Physical Activity and sedentary behaviour 

  • Almost 1 in 4 (23%) children met the daily recommended level of physical activity, but this was only around 1 in 8 (12%) for adolescents.
  • Around 3 in 5 (62%) children met the daily recommended limit of less than 2 hours of screen time during the week, but this decreased to only 1 in 3 (36%) adolescents.

Food habits  

  • 78% of children and 80% of adolescents meet the daily fruit recommendations but only 1 in 20 children (5%) and 1 in 10 adolescents (11%) ate the recommended daily serves of vegetables.
  • 16% of children and almost one-third (31%) of adolescents drank 2 to 6 cups of soft drink a week and 1 in 10 adolescents (10%) consumed 1 or more cups daily.
  • 1 in 5 (20%) children and 1 in 4 (24%) adolescents consumed take away meals or snacks from fast food outlets 1 or more times a week.