Americans Fret Over Fat Kids

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., right, accompanied by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., presents a stack of documents comprising of the health care reform bill during the committee's markup hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 17, 2009. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

Most Americans think children and teenagers are more overweight today than was the case when they were kids, and believe this is a major health problem. Many adults blame eating unhealthy food for the number of overweight children today, according to the latest CBS News/New York Times poll.

Even parents admit their children are eating more fast food than they did themselves as children.

A large majority of American adults - 87 percent - say children and teenagers are more overweight today than when they were young.

CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS MORE OVERWEIGHT TODAY?
Yes
87%
No
11%

While men and women agree that today's children are more overweight, there are other demographic differences. By 79 percent to 89 percent, residents in the Northeast are less likely to say children today are overweight, compared to those who live in other regions of the country. Also, more non-parents say today's kids are overweight than parents.

As the incidence of diseases linked to obesity, such as diabetes, increases among American children, adults see the number of children and teenagers who are overweight as a serious health problem. Nearly seven in ten think the number of overweight children and teenagers is a major health problem, while 29 percent say it is a minor problem.

NUMBER OF CHILDREN BEING OVERWEIGHT IS...
Major health problem
68%
Minor health problem
29%
Not a health problem
1%

Women are more likely than men to say the number of overweight children in this country is a major health problem. 74 percent of women say it is a major problem, compared to 62 percent of men. Also, by 75 percent to 60 percent, more non-parents say this is a major health problem than parents.

When asked which is most to blame for children's and teenager's weight problems, half of Americans say children are eating unhealthy food. This includes 27 percent who say parents are not preparing healthy meals at home, and another 21 percent who blame children's consumption of fast food. An additional 22 percent say children are not getting enough exercise, and 17 percent say all of these factors are to blame.

WHICH IS MOST TO BLAME FOR CHILDREN BEING OVERWEIGHT?
Parents not preparing health meals
27%
Eating fast food
21%
Not enough exercise
22%
All of these (vol.)
17%

There are some gender differences on this question. More men than women cite children not getting enough exercise as the main reason children are overweight, by 28 percent to 17 percent. By 31 percent to 16 percent, parents are also more likely than non-parents to blame lack of exercise as the reason kids are overweight.

VIEWS OF PARENTS

When asked about the behaviors of their own children, parents say their kids eat more fast food than they did when they were their children's age, but they also say their kids are getting the same amount of exercise as they did when they were young.

Nearly half of parents say their children eat more fast food than they did when they were young, 31 percent say their kids eat the same amount of fast food, while under one in five say their kids eat less fast food than they did.

ARE YOUR CHILDREN EATING MORE OR LESS FAST FOOD THAN YOU DID?
Parents
More
48%
Less
18%
Same
31%

While fast food consumption may have changed for this generation of children, parents report less change in exercise habits.

Many parents - 44 percent - say their children are getting the same amount of exercise as they did when they were kids, 32 percent say their kids are getting less exercise and 21 percent say their kids are getting more exercise.

YOUR CHILDREN GETTING MORE OR LESS EXERCISE THAN YOU DID?
Parents
More
21%
Less
32%
Same
44%




This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 642 adults, interviewed by telephone May 9-11, 2003. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.