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," says
Dr. Sandra Hassink, a doctor in Delaware who helps kids with weight
What Does "Overweight" Mean?
Most people who are
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. Today, 15% of kids ages 6 to 19 are overweight.
That's bad news because being overweight can lead to health
and heart disease. Overweight kids also may get teased by other
kids or feel
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
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.
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
- ate healthy and
- 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, Dr. Hassink suggests 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, Dr. Hassink says. 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. But the puzzle won't be solved until kids and
adults figure out how to take action.
"The next step - once you know that healthy eating and
healthy exercise is the right way to maintain weight - is to find
out how to do it," she says. "The important thing is that
you are asking the next question."
What's a KidsPoll?
The group that took this KidsPoll included an almost equal
number of boys and girls who were between 9 and 13 years old. They
answered the questions on handheld data devices while visiting
these health education centers and children's museums:
- Byrnes Health Education Center - York, Pennsylvania
- Children's Health Education Center - Milwaukee,
- Crown Center for Health Education - Hinsdale, Illinois
- Health World Children's Museum - Barrington,
- HealthWorks! Kids Museum - South Bend, Indiana
- Lilly Health Education Center - Indianapolis, Indiana
- McMillen Center for Health Education - Ft. Wayne,
- Poe Center for Health Education - Raleigh, North
- Weller Health Education Center - Eaton, Pennsylvania
A poll, like the KidsPoll, asks people a list of questions. Then
researchers compile all the answers and look at the way the group
answered. They calculate how many - or what percentage - answered
"yes" to this question and "no" to that one.
Polls give us clues about how most people - not just the ones who
answered the poll questions - feel about certain issues. We'll
be conducting more KidsPolls in the future to find out what kids
say - maybe you'll be part of one!
Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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