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Parents Cite Challenges of Supporting Healthy Habits

Parents report feeling too burdened and time-constrained to make their children exercise and eat well, even though they are aware that both good nutrition and an active lifestyle are essential for their children's well-being, says the first in an eight-part series published by National Public Radio.

The new series, "On the Run: How Families Struggle to Eat Well and Exercise" launched this week with an article chronicling the findings of poll that asked parents about the food and exercise habits of their families in the nonschool hours. The poll was commissioned by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Many parents polled said while they are aware their children are not eating well and not exercising enough, they often feel powerless to change the situation. Explanations for the frustrations include insufficient time to prepare a healthy dinner because of job demands; outside activities for children and parents that make it difficult to bring the entire family together for a meal; and the high cost of healthy food, compared with unhealthy items like processed foods.

One-third of households polled said they rely on prepackaged, frozen, or take-out food for most meals, and half said it was difficult to eat together on a daily basis. One in every three American children is obese, the story reports.

As previously reported on this blog, many out-of-school programs are paying more attention to helping combat childhood obesity by providing nutritious snacks (and even meals), and including exercise as core components. They are also training children on how to build better lifestyle habits that can improve overall health.

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