Teens Flunk Themselves On Healthy Habits

American teens are stressed, sluggish and concerned about smelliness. They're also disconnected from reality when it comes to healthy living.

According to a new study on teen lifestyle and nutrition from BuzzBack Market Research, New York, nearly three-quarters of young people put a premium on being healthy, but only about a third actually consider themselves very healthy, and almost half say they're only somewhat healthy.

Maybe that's because they spend more time sitting on their backsides in front of computer and TV screens than doing things that require standing, walking, or running. For example, the study, released this week, found that teens spend 46 hours a week plugged into modern technology, and only 11 hours working out. Specifically, each week, teens spend:

  • 17 hours surfing the Internet and writing e-mails
  • 12 hours watching TV
  • 9 hours on cell phones
  • 8 hours IM'ing
  • 6 hours exercising
  • 5 hours playing sports.

    The stress level is high, but their energy is low. Only a third of respondents feel very or extremely energetic on an average day, with nearly half saying they're somewhat energetic and 18 percent saying they have hardly any energy or none at all. Meanwhile, 65 percent said they feel stressed out. The culprit, in their minds, is school--including such loaded guns as grades, extracurricular activities and the nail-biting college application process.



    The findings present interesting opportunities to marketers, says Carol Fitzgerald, president and founder of BuzzBack Market Research.*

    "Teens have a desire to be healthy," she says. "They're interested in healthy eating and having a healthy lifestyle. There's a huge interest in reading nutrition labels, and they're aware of portion sizes and ingredients. Marketers need to bridge the gap between wanting good health and feeling better. They need to communicate the benefits of their products in terms of elevating energy levels and perhaps even helping to relieve stress."

    The study found teens consider chips the top "must-have" snack. Curious about how they felt about portion-controlled products, BuzzMetrics asked teens specifically about Nabisco's 100-Calorie Snack Packs, a line that includes miniature versions of Chips Ahoy cookies; Wheat Thins; Honey Maid graham crackers; Planters peanut butter cookies; Cheese Nips, and Ritz crackers.

    Nearly all the teens said they are aware of the low-cal line extensions, but only a small percentage said they eat them regularly, and about half of teens haven't even tried them. Fitzgerald says lack of availability and pricing are the biggest barriers to trial, but she also suspects the products' positioning is at play, since the brands appear to be more targeted to moms than younger people.

    As for smelliness? It's a critical personal characteristic for teens--more so than personal appearance, buff muscles and stylish clothing. According to the study, 75 percent of respondents said "how you smell" is an important personal characteristic, and 66 percent cited fresh breath as an issue.

    * This attribution was modified after the article was posted.

  • Next story loading loading..