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Most parents take blame for kids obesity but are overwhelmed and confused about solutions

de Groot family bikes together
The de Groot family bikes together - it's fun and healthy
and just one solution to the overwhelming confusion many
parents have about how to encourage healthy kids

When it comes to childhood obesity and unhealthy eating habits among kids seventy-eight percent of parents believe the fault lies with themselves.

But even when they try, new research shows that the choices can be overwhelming.  What's your take on the situation? Comment or email the solutions that work for your family.

Food, fitness or family…which one is most to blame for childhood obesity? New research from global research firm Mintel shows today’s parents aren’t sure, and they’re feeling overwhelmed and worried as they try to prevent obesity in their own children.

In an exclusive consumer survey of American parents, Mintel found confusion over whether diet or exercise is most important for keeping kids at a healthy weight. Nearly three quarters of parents (72%) believe kids have too much access to junk food, while 69% feel that a lack of exercise is more to blame for obesity. In addition, two in five parents (40%) are concerned that their children might develop obesity.

“Parents aren’t sure where to focus first to ensure their children’s health—diet, exercise or both simultaneously,” states Marcia Mogelonsky, senior analyst at Mintel.

According to Mintel, parents need help when it comes to promoting healthy eating with their children.

While 95% feel that this is very or somewhat important, only 82% believe they are somewhat or very successful at doing so. Similarly, while 93% consider it very or somewhat important to limit their children’s access to junk food, only 77% feel they have been very or somewhat successful at accomplishing this.

Additionally, many parents blame kids’ sedentary lifestyles for obesity. According to parents, less than half of kids are physically active five or more hours per week—less than an hour a day. These sedentary habits are not enough to offset the caloric intake of kids with poor eating habits.

“When it comes to placing the blame, most parents look to themselves,” states Marcia Mogelonsky. “Seventy-eight percent of parents believe the fault lies with them, yet most seek more information on nutrition so they can improve their children’s health.”

More than half of parents (57%) are worried that their children don't get enough information about healthy living at school, and 47% believe children should have ongoing diet and nutrition classes.

The prevalence of overweight and obesity among children aged two to 19 is significant at 12%. While there are hints that these rates are leveling, they have yet to decline. The government has set a goal of 5% incidence in obesity among children for 2010.

What's your say?   If you like this article, sign up for the free email or RSS feed to be alerted when there is a new article. And be sure to comment about what works for your family.



  • Brenda 5 years ago

    Great article! My son and I having been doing Taekwon-Do together for 10 years. There are a lot of families (moms, dads, kids) all working out together at our Do-jang. It's a great way to spend time together and stay fit. It's also fun to spar your parents and siblings!

  • Hanneke 5 years ago

    As being the mom who is biking her kids to school 4 times a week you would think....nothing to worry. Also in my family we struggle with the weight management from my 10 year old. we can't figure it out what the problem might be. Not enough exercize or too much food. I make home lunches every day make sure there is always fruit on the table, every day fresh cooked meals and still...I see too much weight on my son. I hear that boys "pack up" around that age but I am not so sure about that. I definately don't want to give him a negative feeling about the way he looks so I keep an eye on him and try my best. Too much healthy food can also increase the extra pounds. I hope to hear other parents opinion.

  • Kresha 5 years ago

    Good article. I have worked with young children and their families professionally for almost 25 years. So first of all, I see that a lot of the obesity issue is demographically mediated. Even in Indiana where I live, one of the obesity capitals of the world, I'm not seeing anything like 12% obesity among middle class families. (Doesn't speak directly to the issue, but is of note.)

    But what can a parent do? As a person who has personally been overweight all her life, I am proud of having raised two normal weight young adults. But I'm not sure there's a huge mystery here: we say that children should have an hour of physical activity a day. For most modern families, that probably means limiting screen time. (By adolescence this is very hard.) It probably means modeling a love activity oneself. And I think it means providing (and again modeling) eating healthful foods. I wouldn't be a fanatic about no junk food, but neither would I keep soda and chips in the house as an easy alternative to fruits and vegetables.

    Flip side: I would be aware that eating disorders are real. Obsessing about food/weight is not always easy to avoid in our society. But giving lots of healthful choices and teaching children about portion control has got to be helpful. We have tried not to label foods "good foods" and "bad foods", but rather to say "it's okay to eat a cookie now and then, but don't make it the main food you eat."

    Finally, food advertisers are pernicious and out to get our kids' (actally your) money. I think helping children get a realistic perspective on advertising is probably helpful -- another reason to limit screen time, and also another reason to be there while they are watching those Burger King or Fruit Loop commercials. (Do they still sell Fruit Loops??)

  • Jerry 5 years ago

    what year is this article