Maltese teenagers are generally fitter and healthier than those in Italy, Australia and New Zealand, according to a global study.
However, just one in five 11 to 17-year-olds in Malta get as much exercise as they need to to stay in shape.
The figures also showed that 81.4 per cent of teenagers in Malta do ‘insufficient physical activity’ with effects on their health, social skills and brain development.
Researchers from the World Health Organisation produced a country-by-country breakdown of physical activity levels around the globe.
They said those between the ages of 11 and 17 should do at least an hour of exercise every day, but in Malta only around 19 per cent manage it.
Swimming, cycling, walking or playing football were all good ways to stay fit, said the report.
Study author Dr Regina Guthold said: ‘Urgent policy action to increase physical activity is needed now. Active adolescents are likely to be active adults.’
Dr Guthold and her team said physical activity was important for developing young people’s hearts, lungs, bones and muscles and keeping them a healthy weight.
One researcher claimed modern society was to blame for lazy lifestyles.
Dr Mark Tremblay, from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Canada, said: ‘The electronic revolution has fundamentally transformed people’s movement patterns by changing where and how they live, learn, work, play, and travel, progressively isolating them indoors, most often in chairs.
‘People sleep less, sit more, walk less frequently, drive more regularly, and do less physical activity than they used to.’
Where do children do the least exercise?
South Korea (94.2% of children are active for less than one hour a day)
New Zealand (88.7%)