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Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal
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Volume 2: No. 1, January 2005

SPECIAL TOPIC
Childhood Obesity — What We Can Learn from Existing Data on Societal Trends, Part 1

  Minutes per week
Age 3–5 337
Age 6–8 442
Age 9–12 408
All ages 419

Figure 1. Decline in discretionary time (in minutes per week) between 1981 and 1997 among U.S. children three to 12 years. Calculations based on data from Hofferth and Sandberg (5).

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  Minutes per week
School, day care, studying, reading, art activity 366
Personal care 107
Sports/outdoors 73
Shopping 61
Playing -138
Other passive leisure (e.g., conversations, church, visiting) -162
Television -246

Figure 2. Changes in time (in minutes per week) spent on activities between 1981 to 1997 by U.S. children aged three to 12 years. Calculations based on data from Hofferth and Sandberg (5).

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  Minutes per week
School, day care, studying, reading, art activity 405
Personal care 181
Sports/outdoors 134
Shopping 69
Television -82
Other passive leisure (e.g., conversations, church, visiting) -94
Playing -509

Figure 3. Changes in time (in minutes per week) spent between 1981 and 1997 on activities by U.S. children aged three to five years. Calculations based on data from Hofferth and Sandberg (5).

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  Minutes per week
School, day care, studying, reading, art activity 485
Personal care 100
Shopping 99
Sports/outdoors -46
Other passive, conversations, church, visiting, leisure -135
Television -181
Playing -228

Figure 4. Changes in time (in minutes per week) spent between 1981 and 1997 on activities by U.S. children aged six to eight years. Calculations based on data from Hofferth and Sandberg (5).

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  Minutes per week
School, day care, studying, reading, art activity 369
Sports/outdoors 92
Personal care 92
Playing 90
Shopping 27
Other passive, conversations, church, visiting, leisure -163
Television -385

Figure 5. Changes in time (in minutes per week) spent between 1981 to 1997 on activities by U.S. children aged nine to 12 years. Calculations based on data from Hofferth and Sandberg (5).

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  1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
1 hour or less 28.9 29.6 29.7 31.4 31.5 31.9 32.7 32.9 32.4 34.8 35.6 34.1
2-3 hours 41.9 41.3 41.8 41.0 41.6 41.6 40.9 40.4 41.3 39.5 38.9 39.9
4 hours or more 29.1 29.0 28.5 27.6 26.9 26.6 26.4 26.7 26.3 25.7 25.5 26.0

Figure 6. Percentage of teenagers who spend one hour or less, two to three hours, or four hours or more watching television on average weekday, 1991-2001. Analysis based on annual data from Monitoring the Future (18). Reprinted with permission from Child Trends.

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  1/1/1978 1/1/1980 1/1/1982 1/1/1984 1/1/1988 1/1/1990 1/1/1992 1/1/1994 1/1/1996 1/1/1999
age 13   31 39 38 41 36 39 37 35 34
age 17 33 33 37 40 38 37 36 39 35 35

Figure 7. Proportion of U.S. students doing one hour or more of homework. Data available for every other year starting 1978–1996 (except 1986), plus 1999; data not available for children aged 13 in 1978. Data from Gill and Schlossman (20). Copyright 2003 by the American Educational Research Association. Reprinted with permission from publisher.

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  1/1/1984 1/1/1988 1/1/1990 1/1/1992 1/1/1994 1/1/1996 1/1/1999
Homework assigned yesterday 64 71 69 68 68 74 74
One hour or more 19 20 18 17 15 17 17

Figure 8. Homework trends for children aged nine years. Data available every other year 1984–1996 (except 1986), plus 1999. Data from Gill and Schlossman (20). Copyright 2003 by the American Educational Research Association. Reprinted with permission from publisher.

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