Statistics of Play

August 1, 2012, Department, by Danielle Taylor


A kid who plays and has nearby access to a park is much likelier to be a healthy weight.1 in 5: Children in the U.S. who live within walking distance of a park or playground (Centers for Disease Control).

29: Percentage of increased incidence of childhood obesity in neighborhoods without a park or playground.

5x: Likelihood of a child being a healthy weight if there is a park or playground within a half mile, compared to children without a nearby playspace (Singh).

60: Minutes of daily physical activity recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for young people aged 6-17.

29: Percentage of U.S. high-school students who engaged in 60 or more minutes of physical activity on all seven days prior to being surveyed (according to a 2011 CDC study).

7.5: Hours a day the average child aged 8 to 18 spends on entertainment media. Due to media multitasking and using multiple forms of media simultaneously, children actually pack in nearly 11 hours of media use daily (Kaiser Family Foundation).

7: Percentage of U.S. children aged 6-11 years who were obese in 1980.

20: Percentage of U.S. children aged 6-11 years who were obese in 2008.

5: Percentage of U.S. adolescents aged 12-19 who were obese in 1980.

18: Percentage of U.S. adolescents who were obese in 2008 (CDC).

12: Hours of free time U.S. children have lost per week since the late 1970s, along with a 25 percent decrease in play and a 50 percent decrease in unstructured outdoor activities (Juster).

15: Minutes of recess time needed to cause children to behave better in class and learn more, according to a study of 11,000 third graders (Barros, Silver, and Stein).

4 to 7: Minutes per day U.S. children devote to unstructured outdoor play (Hofferth and Sandberg, Juster).

31: Percent of U.S. children who played outside daily in 2004.

70: Percent of children who played outside daily one generation ago (Clements).