Britain scores badly in activity survey

Britain has one of the most sedentary populations on earth, with almost twice the proportion of people defined as “inactive” as in France, a study has shown.

On the eve of the London Olympics, global figures reveal that even the Americans put us to shame when it comes to taking exercise.

In the UK, 63.3 per cent of the population fails to meet recommended levels of physical activity.

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By comparison, 40.5 per cent of United States citizens are inactive, despite more than 30 per cent of them being obese.

Britain has the third-highest proportion of inactive adults in Europe after Malta (71.9 per cent) and Serbia (68.3 per cent).

Few countries in the world have a greater inactivity prevalence, with the list topped by Swaziland (69 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (68.8 per cent).

Of the French population, 32.5 per cent are inactive, while in the super-fit Netherlands only 18.2 per cent of people are inactive.

In the Republic of Ireland, 53.2 per cent of the population do insufficient exercise.

Researchers used World Health Organisation survey data, collected by questionnaire, to compare 122 countries representing 89 per cent of the world’s population.

Inactivity was defined as not meeting any of three criteria: 30 minutes of moderate activity such as a brisk walk, at least five days a week; 20 minutes of vigorous activity at least three days a week; or an equivalent combination of the two.

The findings are published in the medical journal The Lancet.