NEW YORK – Childhood obesity in the United States is expected to grow through 2014, according to a recent study from Datamonitor, an independent research and analysis firm. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles, high consumption of ‘indulgent’ foods and parents’ struggle to maintain a healthy diet for their kids are among the factors fueling this trend.

The 2008 National Poll on Children’s Health in the U.S. found that 30% of parents with overweight or obese children do not set limits on TV, video games or computer games for their offspring. Parents of overweight or obese children were also more likely to rate neighborhood safety and lack of opportunities for physical activity as top health concerns for kids.

Two out of every five children in the U.S. (40.7%) between the ages of 5 and 13 are currently obese or overweight, the study found. This number is expected to climb to 43.4% by 2014.

Although the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of children is partially to blame, parents cite concerns for their child’s safety and the fear of strangers when discouraging outdoor play. Americans have also become accustomed to traveling, even short distances, in their automobiles. Although this will be a hard habit to break, society has recognized the importance of rectifying this behavioral pattern if children are going to learn to live healthy lifestyles now and into adulthood, according to the study.

U.S. children are also eating confectionary snacks at an astonishing rate. Children between the ages of 5 and 13 are consuming confectionery snacks at more than twice the rate of the overall population (per capita). This places an impetus on sector players to provide candies with healthier ingredients and fewer calories to counter the obesity crisis amongst children.

Although globally parents with children ages 5-13 are more likely to make conscious decisions to eat healthier, parents often struggle to maintain a healthy diet for their kids. The study shows that smaller family size, dual parental incomes, and the postponement of having children is giving families more disposable income which they use to satiate their child’s pestering for unhealthy food choices are other trends fueling the fire. Parents are also using material goods to compensate their children reduced family-time, which often lead to poor purchasing decisions, according to the study.