/publications/issue/2013/April2013/Poll-Reveals-Parents-Blind-Spots-Regarding-Kids-Weight

Poll Reveals Parents' Blind Spots Regarding Kids' Weight

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Many American parents do not recognize that their children are overweight or obese, according to the results of a poll released on February 25, 2013.

The poll, conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health, found that only 15% of parents of a nationally representative sample of children aged 2 to 17 years consider their children to be a little or very overweight. By contrast, national data show that 32% of all children are overweight or obese. In addition, just 20% of participating parents reported concern that their children would be overweight as adults. Current estimates hold that 69% of American adults are overweight. The researchers suggest that these responses imply that parents are underestimating their children’s risk for obesity, which may continue to affect them as adults.

Almost all parents included in the poll agreed that a healthy diet and exercise are important for their children, but 44% of respondents said that it is difficult to make sure their children eat nutritious foods, and 36% reported that it is challenging to ensure their children get enough exercise. Almost half (43%) of parents reported that food advertising posed the primary obstacle to keeping their children healthy. Other challenges cited by parents included unhealthy school lunches, the cost of gyms and team fees, lack of sidewalks in their neighborhoods, and social outings to locations that serve unhealthy foods.