Background:

There is current concern for the health and well-being of children and youth in South Africa, including habits of physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior. The 2014 Healthy Active Kids South Africa Report Card evaluates the current activity status of children and youth.

Methods:

The Research Working Group was comprised of 23 experts in physical education, nutrition, sport science, public health and journalism. The search was based on a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature (previous 5 years), dissertations, and nonpeer-reviewed reports (‘gray’ literature) dealing with the PA and nutritional status of South African children and youth 6−18 years of age. Key indicators were identified and data extracted. Grades for each indicator were discussed and assigned.

Results:

Overall PA levels received a D grade, as roughly 50% or more of children and youth were not meeting recommended levels. Organized sports participation fared better with a C, and government policies were promising, receiving a B. Screen time and sedentary behavior were a major concern and received a grade of F. Under- and over-weight were highlighted, but overweight is on the rise and this indicator was assigned a D grade. Most of the other indicators in South Africa remained the same or became worse so that grades declined from C- to D. In particular, sedentary behavior, soft-drink and fast food consumption, and an ineffectual regulatory environment to control advertising to children were a concern. There is need to engage parents and communities for advocacy and social mobilization.

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Draper, Basset, and de Villiers are joint first authors. Draper and Lambert are with the MRC/UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Dept of Human Biology, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Basset is with the Dept of Sport, Recreation, and Exercise Science, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. de Villiers is with the Chronic Diseases of Lifestyle Unit, Medical Research Council of South Africa. The HAKSA Writing Group consists of Monika Uys (University of Cape Town), Clare Bartels (University of Cape Town), Yvonne Blomkamp (University of Cape Town), Lisa Micklesfield (University of the Witwatersrand), Salomé Kruger (North-West University), Andries Monyeki (North-West University), Thandi Puoane (University of the Western Cape), Rowena Naidoo (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Harry Dugmore (Rhodes University), Cheryl Walters (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University), Niri Naidoo (University of Cape Town), Jessica Bacon (The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA), Kathleen McQuaide (Sports Science Institute of South Africa), Lester Josephs (Vitality Schools Programme, Discovery Vitality), and Candice Christie (Rhodes University).

Journal of Physical Activity and Health