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Safety and Wellness

What Kids Say About: Weight


These days, adults are concerned about the growing number of kids who are overweight, and guess what? Kids know it's a problem, too.

We conducted a KidsPoll and asked 1,168 boys and girls about the issue. More than half of them (52%) said too many kids are overweight. This is important because knowing there is a problem is the first step to getting answers to solve the problem.

What Does "Overweight" Mean?

Most people who are overweight have too much body fat. The person who is overweight weighs more than is healthy, considering age, height, and whether the person is a boy or a girl (boys generally weigh more).

The number of overweight kids has increased a lot over the last 30 years. In the United States, about 17% of kids ages 2 to 19 are overweight. That's bad news because being overweight can lead to health problems, like diabetes and heart disease.

Overweight kids also may get teased by other kids or feel sad about the way they look. Most kids (60%) who took the KidsPoll said it was harder for overweight kids to make friends.

Why Are Some Kids Overweight?

When asked why some kids were overweight, many of the KidsPoll participants (54%) said it was because overweight kids didn't exercise enough or eat right. Others said that kids were overweight because fast food restaurants serve the wrong foods or because being overweight runs in the kid's family.

The poll also asked the kids some questions about themselves. Most of the group (78%) said they were either the right weight or underweight. The rest of the group thought they were overweight, with 4% of kids saying they were very overweight.

The poll results don't prove that 4% of the kids were very overweight, but it shows that 4% of the kids believed they were overweight and answered that way. On top of that, 54% of kids said they worried or stressed out about their weight, with more girls feeling this way. Of those who said they never worry about their weight, 59% were boys and 33% were girls.

Losing Weight

Plenty of kids said they have tried to lose weight. Of those who had, here's how they said they tried to do it:

  • went on a diet — 17%
  • ate healthy and exercised — 64%
  • ate out less — 14%
  • took medicine — 5%

Eating healthy and exercising are usually the best ways to lose weight, and 73% of the kids knew that. If kids are worried about weight, experts suggest they think about where they should go for answers. The KidsPoll participants chose talking to a nurse or doctor as the best resource.

Here are the other ways kids said they could learn more about getting to a healthy weight:

  • from lessons at school — 8%
  • from demonstrations on healthy cooking — 16%
  • from a parent or family member — 15%
  • by joining a group, club, or team that teaches about physical activity — 27%

It's great that kids are thinking about weight problems and the best way to solve them. It's like putting together a difficult puzzle. Understanding that there's a problem is one piece. Understanding what causes kids to be overweight is another. And knowing that eating healthy and exercising are the best strategies to fix the problem is a very important piece.


Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

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