Ladling Out Blame For Kids’ Obesity

With tales about childhood obesity now a staple of nightly newscasts, it’s harder for parents to be in denial when their kids get too hefty. In an Associated Press/KOL poll fielded by Ipsos Public Affairs among parents of children age 6-17, 21 percent conceded their offspring are overweight. This includes 12 percent saying the kid’s weight is “slightly over” what doctors say it ought to be, 5 percent saying it’s “somewhat over” and 4 percent saying it’s “a lot over.” Among parents whose kid is overweight, 38 percent identified lack of exercise as the biggest factor. Twenty-three percent blamed “easy access to junk food,” 9 percent cited “eating unhealthy food” and 7 percent pointed to “overeating.” Twelve percent said it’s genetics. A grand total of 2 percent blamed “parental food choices.” As you can see from the chart, just one-fourth of parents regard TV spots for child-oriented foods as a major impediment to improving the kid’s eating habits. Similar numbers of respondents accorded that status to “the cost of healthy food” (25 percent), “the food served in the school cafeteria” (24 percent) and “product packaging aimed at children” (22 percent). The decline of the family dinner is another factor: 22 percent of the parents included “family not having enough time for home-cooked meals” among the big obstacles to reforming a kid’s dietary habits.