February 25, 2013
Contact:
Emerson Brown, NPR


   

POLL: MANY PARENTS' VIEWS OF CHILDREN'S WEIGHT NOT IN LINE
WITH NATIONAL STATISTICS; HEALTHY DIET AND EXERCISE DIFFICULT

NPR NEWS SERIES 'ON THE RUN:
HOW FAMILIES STRUGGLE TO EAT WELL AND EXERCISE,' AIRING THIS WEEK,
BASED ON POLL FROM NPR, THE ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION
AND HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH

Many parents may not have an accurate assessment of their children's weight and healthy eating and exercise may take a backseat to other priorities, according to a new poll out today from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health. Results of the poll reveal that 80 percent of children have parents who are not concerned their children will become overweight as adults, despite national data suggesting 32 percent of children and 69 percent of adults are overweight.

The findings provide the basis for NPR's "On The Run: How Families Struggle To Eat Well And Exercise," a series looking at ongoing concerns over the nation's childhood obesity epidemic by exploring what is really going on during the "crunch time" of day from 3:00PM to bedtime when parents and caretakers often have the most influence over what their children eat and do - but are also dealing with hectic schedules. The series begins today and airs all week on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. In the "On The Run: How Families Struggle To Eat Well And Exercise," NPR correspondents examine how the daily time period is contributing to unhealthy habits for millions of American children, from small changes in lifestyle and eating patterns that may be adding extra calories to diets, to what kids are really eating during the day, to the barriers to an exercise routine, to the many factors that can get in the way of a good night's rest.

The poll surveyed 1,018 caregivers of children ages two through 17, most of whom (89 percent) were parents. Complete results are at NPR.org, where all reports in the series will be available. Among the key findings:

· Not my child: parents' assessments of their children's weight do not line up with national statistics. According to parents and caretakers in our poll, three quarters of children (73 percent) are "about the right weight," 14 percent are "a little overweight" and only one percent are "very overweight." This contrasts with national data suggesting that 32 percent of children are overweight, including 17 percent who meet the definition of obese.

· There may be a parental disconnect: surprisingly, while recent polls show most American adults think obesity is a serious problem for society, but according to our poll, most children (80 percent) have parents who are not concerned their children will become overweight adults.

· Eating right is difficult: more than four in ten children (44 percent) have parents who say it is difficult to make sure their children eat in a way that helps them maintain or achieve a healthy weight.

· Eating unhealthy food: during crunch time, more than half of children (60 percent) ate or drank something that can lead to unhealthy weight gain, as perceived by their parents.

· Exercising enough can be tough: roughly a third of children (36 percent) have parents who say it is difficult to make sure they exercise in a way that helps them maintain or achieve a healthy weight.

· Environment doesn't help: beyond the crunch time window, a substantial share of parents say they face problems related to food and beverage advertising, a lack of walkable sidewalks and poor school lunch options when trying to help their child maintain or achieve a healthy weight.

"On The Run: How Families Struggle To Eat Well And Exercise" is being reported by NPR's Science Desk, with NPR correspondents Allison Aubrey, Jon Hamilton, Richard Knox, Patti Neighmond, Julie Rovner and Rob Stein, Shankar Vedantam, NPR senior producer Jane Greenhalgh, and Chantell Williams of Youth Radio.

The poll is part of an ongoing series of surveys on health conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health.