Behaviors around Purchase Decisions, Meal Preparation, Use of Free Time Can Determine Propensity for Healthy Weight or Overweight/Obese Children

CHICAGO and WASHINGTON, D.C., June 29, 2010 – SymphonyIRI Group, Inc., formerly named Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) announced today new research that reveals a surprising conclusion: the attitudes and behaviors of families with one or more overweight/obese children differ little from those with all healthy weight children.

“Many myths and misperceptions continue to exist about childhood obesity,” said Thom Blischok, global president, Innovation and Strategy, SymphonyIRI. “This new research is the first of a series designed to probe into the attitudes, behaviors and rituals within the family that can lead to children becoming overweight or obese. We have found that just a few differences in behaviors can make the difference between the path to overweight and obesity, and that of maintaining healthy weight children.”

“Gaining a greater understanding of home behaviors and dynamics is critical to addressing childhood obesity in a holistic manner,” added Cathy Polley, vice president, Health and Wellness, FMI. “FMI is working to address the issues that lead to childhood obesity and our partnership with SymphonyIRI on this important new research is the latest step in these efforts.”

The new research identified five factors that can make the difference between one or more children becoming overweight or obese and all children maintaining healthy weight. These include:

  • Involvement in Purchase Decisions and Food Preparation – Children in healthy weight families tend to be more involved in food purchase decisions (76 percent of healthy weight families vs. 72 percent in families with one or more overweight/obese children, including accompanying parents on shopping trips (68 percent vs. 64 percent). In addition, parents in healthy weight families are more likely to be involved in preparing and cooking most meals (89 percent vs. 82 percent).
  • Healthy Habits Translate to Healthy Weight Children – Households with healthy weight children have fewer rules about eating than those with one or more overweight/obese children (46 percent for healthy weight families vs. 51 percent for families with one or more overweight/obese children). The traditional family adage of “finish what’s on your plate” does not serve children well: just 28 percent of families with healthy weight children apply this rule vs. 38 percent for families with at least one overweight or obese child.
  • Play Is Important – The study found that 78 percent of healthy weight children play inside for 30 minutes or more per day, vs. just 71 percent of overweight/obese children. Similarly, 84 percent of healthy weight children play outside for 30 minutes or more per day vs. 79 percent for overweight/obese children.
  • Attitudes about Healthy Translate to Weight – Parents of healthy weight children place a premium on most activities that lead to healthy weight. These include daily exercise (valued by 92 percent of healthy weight family parents vs. 88 percent of parents of one or more overweight/obese children), access to fruit and vegetables in school (89 percent vs. 85 percent, respectively) and limiting fast food (86 percent vs. 83 percent, respectively).
  • Value of Influencing Key Influencers – Surprisingly, despite the hype about social media, very few parents of healthy weight or overweight/obese children visit these sites for key information. Both types of parents focus primarily on primary care physicians, other medical resources, friends and relatives and health and wellness websites, books, magazines and newspapers and nutritionists/dieticians to gain critical information.

About This Research
SymphonyIRI and FMI completed this research in April 2010. The study includes completed online surveys from 1,000 shoppers collected from an independent panel, reflecting a cross section of U.S. consumers. To download the “Childhood Obesity: Crisis in America” Executive Perspective, please visit:

About SymphonyIRI Group, Inc.
SymphonyIRI Group, formerly named Information Resources, Inc. (“IRI”), is the global leader in innovative solutions and services for driving revenue and profit growth in CPG, retail and healthcare companies. SymphonyIRI offers two families of solutions: Core IRI solutions for market measurement and Symphony Advantage solutions for enabling new growth opportunities in marketing, sales, shopper marketing and category management. SymphonyIRI solutions uniquely combine content, analytics and technology to deliver maximum impact. SymphonyIRI helps companies create, plan and execute forward-looking, shopper-centric strategies across every level of the organization. For more information, visit

John McIndoe

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