Health is the decisive choice for American teens

September 15, 2009

Who’s tired of hearing that America is fat and unmotivated to change?

Who’s tired of hearing that America is fat and unmotivated to change? Count us out of this generality, shout the nation’s teens, who told Scarborough Research overwhelmingly (92%) that health and a healthy lifestyle are important. A considerable majority (76%) seem to be living by those words, grading themselves B- or higher on a ‘health report card.’

Whether this up-and-coming generation of teens (ages 13-17) will sustain healthy lifestyles once they enter the world of adult responsibility - including long work hours, irregular meals, and caring for others - time will tell. For now, however, their voices stand out against alarming federal statistics on obesity and the attendant risks of heart disease, diabetes, and compromised lifestyles.

The easy access to credible health and nutrition information online is a key factor in the teen ‘pro-health’ attitude.There’s also the perennial pubescent desire to be competitive and attractive among peers. Further helping this move along is the improvement in school food and removal of many junk-food temptations. In our view, today’s teens are putting it all together - what they learn about health and nutrition, what they see among older adults in their lives who struggle with weight and lifestyle issues compromising their wellness, and teens’ own empowerment to act. raises a non-alcoholic toast to the health-consciousness of today’s teens. JFK, who promoted physical fitness as part of his presidential agenda, would be proud. Indeed, their parents must be too. According to the Scarborough Research, parents and guardians are teens’ primary resource (63%) for health and nutrition information.

Online sources are #2, cited by 50% of teens in the study, followed by doctors/nurses and teachers/coaches (28%), friends (22%), health magazines (19%) and siblings (13%), the data show.

When teens use the web for learn about health, a majority (56%) “frequently/occasionally’ find sports tips/advice or health/nutrition information via a search engine, according to the research. Trailing that by eight percentage points or more are: visiting a health site, discussing health/nutrition on a social networking, reading blogs or more.

“While this self-awareness of how they rate their healthy living seems to contradict statistics on child and teen obesity published by the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and other agencies, it shows that there is a foundation or predisposition for turning awareness into actual healthy lifestyle patterns,” notes Steve Seraita, executive vice president, Scarborough Research.

CPG and retailers would do their consumers a service by urging teens to keep up the great work, and provide them with informational tools to help them consistently make the right health decisions.