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“Crunch Time” Poses an Obstacle to Healthy Habits for U.S. Children

family-eating-lThere 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. However, parents face daily challenges, during the time their children get home from school and the time they go to bed, to help them make healthy choices.

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

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 achive 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.

See the full results on the Robert Wood Johnson website.