Midan MarketingShugoll Research
Gen M Obesity
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Gen M Obesity

Methodology: Midan Marketing and Shugoll Research teamed up to conduct a multi-phase study with tweens (8 to 12 year-olds) and teens (13 to 17 year-olds) using a qualitative online immersion research method and a quantitative online survey method to develop an understanding of the role obesity plays in the lives of children aged 8 to 17 years and possible solutions that could lead to them developing healthy eating habits.

Referred to by some as the Media Generation and others as the Millennial Generation, Generation M (Gen M) is a term referring to people born between 1980 and 2000 (currently ages 8-28). The common thread that ties all Gen M members together is that they were born during a period of incredible technological advances that has affected their daily lives in a drastically different way than any prior generation. Members of Gen M have never experienced life without the Internet, instant messaging, cell phones, text messaging, MP3 players or DVR. They live in a world with new opportunities and new challenges, and seek creative solutions for them.


To achieve the objectives of this phase of the study, researchers utilized a cutting-edge qualitative research tool known as online immersion. Online immersion is used with consumers to capture and understand behaviors, experiences and emotions in context as they occur over a period of time. The methodology uses technologies such as the Internet, digital phones, chat rooms and wireless devices to obtain deeper insight into consumer perceptions, behaviors or needs.

For the purposes of this study, Body Mass Index (BMI) was determined by the child's age, height and weight as provided by a parent. The child's age, gender and BMI was then compared to the Centers for Disease Control BMI-z table to determine whether the child was "underweight," "normal weight," "at risk for being overweight" or "overweight."

To report the results of this research, this study uses the more common terms for childhood obesity. Those who fit the BMI-z category “at risk for overweight” are termed as "overweight" in this report, and those in the “overweight” category are referred to as "obese."

In this Qualitative Research phase, researchers worked with 10 obese tweens and 9 obese teens to gain insights into:

  • How tweens and teens feel about themselves and their bodies
  • Their eating habits
  • What tweens and teens know about food and nutrition
  • Suggestions tweens and teens have that would help them make
    better eating decisions

The participants took part in a virtual brainstorming session regarding how food manufacturers, supermarkets, restaurants, school cafeterias and their parents could implement ideas to encourage healthier eating habits.

These and other insights were then applied to the creation of the survey used in phase 2 the Quantitative Research Phase of the study. The findings in relation to school cafeterias are presented in the Executive Summary; the others are included in the Full Report.

>>Read more eye-opening findings.


The quantitative phase of the research was conducted as an online survey using an online national panel of U.S. adults with children. All panel participants had access to a computer and the Internet in order to participate in the panel. There were 983 respondents in the study, approximately half of which were female, half male, half tweens and half teens.

Among 488 tweens, 22% were overweight and 30% would be considered obese, while 16% of 495 teens were overweight and another 17% would be considered obese. Areas of investigation among these tweens and teens included:

  • How they feel about their body shape
  • How their weight affects their levels of physical activity
  • The frequency of consumption of various foods and beverages
  • Suggested solutions to help them develop healthier eating habits

>>Read more eye-opening findings.

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