How poverty keeps children out of sport

Children from lower income families are being prevented from taking part in sports because of the high costs involved, new research has shown. The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health suggested many less well-off parents are choosing not to let their kids participate because they simply cannot afford to.

According to the survey, nearly one-in-five mums and dads from such a background said their little ones have not been involved in as much physical activity.

The study comes at a time when many schools are introducing athletic participation fees due to the reducing of sports budgets across learning establishments.

Sarah Clark, Associate Director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University, described the reduced levels as significant, adding: "We know that participating in school sports offers many benefits to children and teens: higher school achievement, lower dropout rates, improved health, reduced obesity and the development of skills like teamwork."

Professor Tommy MacKay, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, says:

"Making it more costly for children and young people to participate in sports discriminates against the poorer sectors of society in terms of health and equality of opportunity. However, it also makes bad economic sense. Increased levels of participation in physical activity enhance physical and mental health and reduce obesity, and ultimately represent a good investment in terms of any cost-benefit analysis."