A Poll About Children and Weight

"Crunch time" is a major contributor to unhealthy habits for millions of American children. This poll by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR, and the Harvard School of Public Health provides new insights into the epidemic of childhood obesity and the challenges that families face during crunch time.

There is almost universal agreement (95%) among American parents polled that it's important for their kids to eat and exercise in a way that maintains healthy weight.

The poll takes a look at children's eating and activity habits during crunch time, from their parents' perspective and addresses: 1) challenges relating to helping children maintain or achieve a healthy weight; 2) perceptions of children's activities and food or drink consumption; 3) practices around the family dinner; 4) family practices around restful sleep; and 5) family events as compared with daily practice.  

 Key Findings:

  • During crunch time, more than half of parents said their children (60%) ate or drank something that could lead to unhealthy weight gain.
  • More than a quarter of children (28%) did not get enough physical activity to help them maintain or achieve a healthy weight according to their parents.
  • Almost 73 percent of parents felt their child was "about the right weight." This contrasts to national data suggesting that 32 percent are overweight, including 17 percent who are obese.
  • Approximately one-half (48%) of children lived in families that ate together 6 or 7 nights out of the last week.
  • Forty-eight percent of children attended monthly family functions where children had access to food that could lead to unhealthy weight gain.


On the radio

NPR Series: On The Run: How Families Struggle To Eat Well And Exercise

This series takes a deeper look into the poll's results and what the findings tell us about the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Read more

Compared with the school day, crunch time may be a time when parents and other adults in the household have more influence over what children eat and do, but it is also a busy time when many are returning home from work, arranging for their children’s extracurricular activities, trying to monitor homework, and getting ready for the next day.

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of parents believe their children are "about the right weight"