Feature Article - April 2005
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Catch Those Kids

How to make and market kids’ programming to not only fight fat but rise above a bloated marketplace of leisure choices

By Margaret Ahrweiler



The Skinny on the Obesity Front

THE BAD NEWS:
  • More than 10 percent of U.S. children ages 2 to 5 are overweight, up from 7 percent in 1994, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
  • Almost 4 million kids ages 6 to 11 and 5.3 million ages 12 to 19 were overweight in 2002, according to the AHA.
  • A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 62 percent of children ages 9 to 13 take part in no organized physical activity outside of school, and 23 percent of children the same age don't do any free-time physical activity at all.
  • Only one state in the country—Illinois—mandates daily physical education in schools; less than 6 percent of all U.S. high schools require P.E. for juniors and seniors.
THE GOOD NEWS:
  • Preteen and teen memberships at health clubs have increased 65 percent, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and now make up 11.4 percent of all club memberships.
  • Nearly 25 percent of all fitness clubs offer kids' fitness programs—not just babysitting—at the same time as adult classes, according to IHRSA.
  • Kraft Foods, that titan of kid-oriented chow, announced it will stop targeting advertisements for snack foods to children, which means no more kid-oriented advertising for Chips Ahoy, Ritz Crackers, Lunchables and Ritz Crackers, among others.
  • California schools have banned junk food from their halls and vending machines; despite the significant drop in profits, they are sticking with the program so far.