Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association
Canadian Paediatric Society

Canadian Paediatric Society
The College of Family Physicians of Canada

The College of Family Physicians of Canada

April 26, 2007 00:01 ET

CMA: Children Should Do as Their Parents Say, Not as They Do

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - April 26, 2007) - The Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and The College of Family Physicians of Canada released a survey today by Ipsos Reid that asked parents and children to rate the health of their family's lifestyle. It found some significant differences in perception that could explain the growing trend toward child obesity in Canada.

"Last August when we surveyed parents on their children's weight, we found that they appeared to be looking at the problem of obesity through rose-coloured glasses," said Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, Chair of the Child Health Initiative (CHI) Steering Committee. "Now we see that not only are parents not always aware of factors contributing to their children's health, sometimes they are not the best role models either."

In the survey, it was found that:

- 57% of parents watch 2 hours or more of TV a night; that rose to 66% when children were asked if their parents watch 2 hrs or more TV a night;

- 48% of parents say they spend two or more hours a night on the internet; that rose to 57% when children were asked if their parents spend two or more hours a night on the internet;

- 60% of parents say they participate in a common family physical activity with their children at least once a week however, only 27% of children agree.

In addition, when looking at parents' healthy lifestyle, it was found that:

- Only 28% of parents say they eat the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables;

- Only 17% of parents are getting 9 hours of sleep or more per night;

- 26% of parents say they sometimes smoke, while 44% of children say their parents sometimes smoke cigarettes.

The survey also found that parents have a better opinion of their children's health habits than their children do. It found that:

- 89% of parents say their children eat breakfast every day; however only 72% of children say they do;

- 65% of parents say their children eat the recommended servings of fruit or vegetables a day; however only 26% of children agree;

- 80% of parents say their children get at least 9 hours of sleep a day; however only 63% of children say they do.

"As a father of three sons, these poll results remind me of the important role parents play in helping shape their children's future life habits, said Dr. Tom Bailey, President of The College of Family Physicians of Canada. "And as a family doctor, I recognize the important role health care professionals need to play to work more effectively with families on improving the health of children and parents."

In addition to the role of parents, the survey also found some troubling results when it came to asking children about their own health. The survey found:

- 70% of children say they sometimes or often feel anxious or stress due to peer pressure/intimidation

- 63% of children say they spent 2 hours or more a night watching TV and 42% say they spend 2 hours or more a night on the internet.

- 11% of children say they sometimes drink alcohol, while 6% say they sometimes smoke. Interestingly, a similar number of parents agree.

The good news is that while almost all parents feel that they are most responsible for ensuring that Canadian children are healthy (93%), youth divide responsibility between themselves (43%) and their parents (53%).

"These results also show that Canada's children and youth realize that they have to take responsibility for their own choices in order to lead healthy lives," said Dr. Robert Issenman, President of the CPS. "We need to find ways to give children and youth a voice in making lifestyle choices and provide them with the resources and education they need to make healthy decisions."

The results of this survey and of consultation held with children in regard to their health will be considered later today at the Child Health Summit. The goal of the Child Health Summit is to raise awareness of child health issue and develop an action plan to improve the health status of Canadian children.

Ipsos-Reid conducted this survey between March 30th and April 8th. They interviewed 1,107 Canadian parents of children under 18 and 631 children between the ages of 10 and 17. The results are considered accurate to within ±2.95 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Survey can be accessed at or

Contact Information

  • The Canadian Medical Association
    Steve Wharry
    613-731-8610 x2135 or 613-298-4669 (C)
    The College of Family Physicians of Canada
    Jayne Johnston
    905-629-0900 x303
    The Canadian Paediatric Society
    Olivia Craft