Fears over ‘ac­tiv­ity gap’ as in­ac­tiv­ity lev­els a fifth higher in poor­est ar­eas

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By AN­GUS HOWARTH

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

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