Fears over ‘activity gap’ as inactivity levels a fifth higher in poorest areas
Cuts to sports clubs and community groups must be reversed to bridge a widening “activity gap” contributing to poor health in deprived communities, Scottish Labour has said.
Figures from the annual Scottish Household Survey reveal that the number of people doing regular exercise in the most deprived communities was 18 per cent lower than those in the wealthiest areas. The gap grew by 2 per cent between 2015 and 2016.
Almost a third of people in the most deprived fifth of Scottish postcodes said they hadn’t walked for at least 30 minutes in a single day within the previous four weeks.
The survey covers a range of activities including football, snooker and bowls, but when walking is stripped out of responses, the activity gap between rich and poor widens further, to 20 per cent.
Labour claimed the figures uncover failures by the Scottish Government in public health policy, and called for a review of how austerity was hitting physical health.
The party’s public health spokesman Colin Smyth said: “We know there is a link between deprivation and ill health, and we can now identify a clear ‘activity gap’ between the richest and the poorest.
“We need to see some credible action to close this gap, or our NHS will simply shoulder an even greater burden for years to come. £1.5 billion cut from local council budgets in the past six years will have hammered local sports clubs and community groups, making it harder for people to access facilities.”
The gap in life expectancy between Scotland’s wealthiest and most deprived areas has widened and can be as much as ten years, a study by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health revealed last year.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said activity levels were going up and promotion of the Daily Mile initiative would help raise them further.
The government claimed wider efforts to tackle inequality, including greater investment in affordable housing, would reduce the health gap.
“We are investing to make sport and physical activity accessible to all, regardless of location or background,” the spokesman said. “This includes the Legacy 2014 Physical Activity fund, which has seen £800,000 invested in projects targeted in just this way.
“To tackle the wider issue of health inequalities we are taking action to address the fundamental causes.”
0 The number of people doing regular exercise in the most deprived communities was 18 per cent lower than those in the wealthiest areas