Nearly nine out of 10 parents say they're providing a healthy home environment for their children. In fact, they aren't, a new YMCA survey shows.
Most kids don't come close to getting enough exercise daily and don't eat enough fruits and vegetables: 62% of 1,630 parents with children ages 5 to 10 say their kids eat junk food one to four days a week.
Only 14% of parents say their kids eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day.
These results shed light on the reasons for the childhood obesity epidemic. About a third of children in the USA are overweight, which puts them at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and other health problems.
Even though 89% of parents rate themselves good or excellent in providing a healthy home environment, most say they face serious roadblocks to providing healthy lifestyles for their kids, citing too many competing activities - especially social networks, computer games, TV and cellphones.
"Parents have really good intentions, but they are busy and have a lot of distractions so sometimes they make the easy choice but not the best choice," says Lynne Vaughan, senior vice president of the YMCA. The group sponsored the survey to celebrate its Healthy Kids Day events Saturday.
Federal guidelines recommend that children get an hour or more of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity a day, but 74% of parents surveyed say their kids do not get that much. Only 16% say their kids are playing outside daily.
Although two-thirds of parents say they make time to play with their children every day, the most frequent leisure activities are sedentary, such as playing card or board games or watching TV.
In fact, 46% say their kids watch TV for at least two hours five or more days a week.
Instead, Vaughan says families should walk, dance or play active games inside. That way, healthy choices become family traditions.