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Kentucky Parent Survey: What Parents Think About Children's Health Behavior

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

As part of its Kentucky Parent Survey, the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky released new data about children’s health behaviors.  The parental perceptions measured by the poll provide valuable insight into the health habits and behaviors of Kentucky’s children, which often fell short of recommended benchmarks.

“Our children’s habits and behaviors impact their health today and shape their quality of life as they grow,” said Dr. Susan Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.  “When kids eat poorly and don’t get enough physical activity, it increases their risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases.  This poll data helps us understand what parents think about the behaviors that are so critical to health.”

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, 37% of school age children in Kentucky are overweight or obese.  Yet most Kentucky parents (76%) think their child weighs about the right amount and few (14%) think their child weighs too much.

One strategy being used to reduce childhood obesity in Kentucky is called 5-2-1-0.  The numbers correspond to behavior recommendations: each day, children should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, limit screen time to no more than two hours, have one hour of physical activity and zero sugar-sweetened beverages.

According to their parents, more than half of Kentucky’s children (56%) are watching more than the maximum recommended amount of “screen time” per day.  Screen time refers to time spent watching television, playing video games, surfing the internet.

Similarly, most children (59%) drink soda or other sugar sweetened beverages each day.

“Childhood obesity remains an issue in Kentucky, and parents can help reduce this risk by encouraging healthy behaviors for their children” said Zepeda.

Other Kentucky Parent Survey highlights reveal:

  • More than half (56%) of Kentucky parents said their child got enough fruits and vegetables every day during the preceding week.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of Kentucky parents reported their child got enough physical activity every day during the preceding week.
  • Elementary and high school students often get less than the recommended amount of sleep per day.

The Kentucky Parent Survey assessed the views of parents, step-parents, grandparents, foster parents or other legal guardians of children in Kentucky.

The Parent Survey was conducted in July and August by the Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia.  More than 1,000 parents and guardians of children under 18 from throughout the state were interviewed by phone.  The survey has a margin of error of ±3%. 

Overall, the Kentucky parent survey provides a snapshot of parental views on a number of issues including health care, school and home life. Future reports will address where parents turn for information on raising healthy and happy children.  Additional Kentucky Parent Survey reports will be released in the coming months. 

For the complete Kentucky Parent Survey report on Children's Health Behavior, click here.