The research was conducted as part of fit, a partnership between
The study finds that, while around one in 20 parents of teens report struggling with the subjects of alcohol, drugs and smoking, and about one in 10 are uncomfortable talking with their teens about sex, far more -- nearly a quarter of parents -- are hesitant to talk to their teens about being overweight.
What's even more concerning is that, according to the research, many parents (of kids ages 8-17) may be avoiding the subject of weight altogether.
More than one in five parents admit they have never brought up the subject of maintaining a healthy weight to their kids, despite more than one-third say that being overweight poses an immediate health risk to their kids. According to the
"Maintaining a healthy weight has become a cultural -- and now clearly a conversational -- lightening rod," said
Healthcare professionals are clear on their viewpoint: 90 percent believe that maintaining a healthy weight is the most important health topic that parents should discuss with their children, over safe sex, cigarette smoking, drug use, and excessive alcohol consumption.
Whose Job Is It Anyway? Parents and Kids Disagree; Physicians Fear the Fallout
Almost no parents feel that doctors should be primarily responsible for teaching their kids about the risks of smoking cigarettes, sexual activity, drugs or alcohol. However, when it comes to the dangers of being overweight, nearly one in five parents say the doctor should be most accountable for having this discussion.
"Weight has become such an emotionally charged and pervasive subject, especially in a culture that is highly image-driven," says
When healthcare providers are confronted with conversations with their pediatric patients on weight, however, they too face their own barriers. According to the research, more than half say the potential emotional reaction from pediatric patients prevents them from initiating the conversation about healthy weight; the same percentage report concerns about the emotional fallout from family members.
Of the healthcare providers who are talking to their pediatric patients about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, only 47 percent have the conversation with patients whose weight is within normal range, versus 93 percent who have the conversation with patients whose weight is above the normal range. Prevention is key in this epidemic, but it is not necessarily happening in the doctor's office.
Parents May Not Be Prepared to Have "The Talk"
One of the biggest barriers to parents talking with their kids and teaching healthy habits is simply not having the right information. According to the research, well over half of clinicians believe parents need information on how to manage these conversations effectively. "Initiating these discussions starts with knowing the basics, like the fact that behavioral health and proper sleep play a critical role in obesity risk, in addition to proper nutrition and activity," says
Fit: A Nationwide Initiative with a New Platform
Fit is the only national initiative that focuses equally on the four key contributing factors to childhood obesity risk: Food (nutritional fitness); Move (physical fitness); Mood (emotional fitness); and Recharge (restorative fitness). It is
Fit is backed by the clinical insight of
Fit includes online destinations for kids and teens, as well as Raising Fit Kids for parents (www.webmd.com/raisingfitkids). It features content for all ages, including games, quizzes, articles, videos and other content for kids developed by
Media: Please visit the Fit media room or online press kit for broadcast and print materials at http://www.fitmediaroom.com or http://newsinfusion.com/events/webmdfit.
About the Surveys
Data was collected from multiple sources: a national survey of 1,299 parents of children ages 8-17 and a national survey of 1,078 kids between the ages of 8-17 conducted by
The WebMD Health Network includes
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LauraLee Hardinglharding@coynepr.com 973-588-2000 201-679-4042
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