I.R.I. finds 21% of children 6 to 17 are overweight

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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CHICAGO — As a part of its "Healthy Kids" study, Information Resources, Inc. has developed action steps for retailers focusing on family wellness programs in an effort to reduce childhood obesity.

The plan includes implementing new "better-for-you" standards across product categories to segment these products from mainstream products. Other recommended initiatives include collaborating with manufacturers to optimize availability of healthy assortments and developing in-store shopper education and navigation initiatives.

"As a nation, while we are starting to see progress in battling the true crisis of child health, we need to remain conscious and vigilant," said Sean Seitzinger, senior vice-president of I.R.I. Center for Retail Innovation.

I.R.I. indentified three factors as contributing to childhood obesity, including less activity, mass marketing of food-related messaging and more entertainment. The research firm found 8 to 12 year-olds see on average 7,600 television ads per year promoting food items such as candy, snacks and fast food. Only one in 50 of these ads were found to be for healthy products.

Additionally, 61% of children ages 9 to 15 play video games on a daily basis, and children ages 8 to 18 spend more time in front of a screen than any other waking activity.

I.R.I. data also showed 21% of U.S. children ages 6 to 17 are currently identified as overweight, and by 2020 that number is projected to jump to nearly one-third of all children.

"In the end, we believe education, cooperation and collaboration will begin to turn the tide and produce positive results for all," Mr. Seitzinger said.

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