Majority of parents consider this season the most stressful time of the year

Image for post
Image for post
A recent study commissioned by Herbalife Nutrition and conducted by OnePoll revealed that parents actually worry MORE than their children about back-to-school season. (Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)

It’s not only students who are stressed about school: Six in 10 parents are so worried about their child that they’ve lost sleep in the back-to school season.

A new survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children (aged 5–18) revealed that 57 percent find the back-to-school season to be the most stressful part of the year.

From worries over their child making friends at school to concerns about school lunches or academic success, results revealed that parents actually worry MORE than their child (29 percent vs. 12 percent).

The top worries were found to be whether their child will have good teachers (50 percent), if their child is eating healthy foods at school (44 percent) and the cost of new school supplies (42 percent).

Commissioned by Herbalife Nutrition and conducted by OnePoll, the survey found parents’ concerns about their child’s safety (41 percent) and whether they’ll make friends at school (40 percent) rounded out the top five.

Results revealed it takes parents a little over two weeks to settle into the school routine, so it’s understandable that there’s some mishaps when getting back into the swing of things.

In fact, 45 percent of parents said they forgot to pack their child a lunch and 41 percent sent their child to school with the wrong lunch.

The survey looked into students’ nutrition habits when it came to lunch and found that the average child buys lunch about three times a week.

Results found that students aren’t eating as healthily as recommended. In an average week, only 10 percent of children are eating the USDA’s daily recommended amount of fruit per day.

Just 8 percent of children are eating the recommended servings of vegetables each day in an average week.

Children also aren’t receiving enough exercise, according to the survey. During the school year, 76 percent don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity.

And while healthy eating is one of the top concerns for parents, over a third (36 percent) admit they don’t typically know what their child eats when they buy a school lunch.

That’s not the only thing parents admitted to not knowing: About four in 10 don’t know the difference between nutrient dense and calorie dense foods.

Only about a quarter know both the nutrient and calorie composition of the foods their child eats for lunch, whether packed (25 percent) or purchased (28 percent).

“Parents have enough to worry about and what their kids are eating in school should be the last thing they have to think about. Yet unfortunately parents have deep fears about what their kids are eating in lunchrooms across the country,” says Dr. John Agwunobi, pediatrician, co-president and Chief Nutrition Officer at Herbalife Nutrition.

“We all have a responsibility to ensure our kids are getting the most nutritious meals possible and I applaud school districts around the country that are working with parents to improve both the nutrition levels and taste of school meals.”
From square slices of pizza, unidentified meat or too many fried options in the school cafeteria, it’s no surprise that the majority of parents say their child eats healthiest when at home.

Image for post
Image for post

Bringing lunch can help provide a healthier alternative, but that isn’t an option for all families — 45 percent say they have a lack of time in which to prepare food.

When parents do pack a lunch, having tasty food is the top priority (64 percent), followed by foods parents know their child will eat (64 percent) and healthy options (62 percent).

And the staple foods are sticking around: Fifty-eight percent say peanut butter and jelly is a common meal they make for their child.

Image for post
Image for post
(GIF by Giphy)


  1. If my child will have good teachers 50 percent
  2. If my child is eating healthy foods at school 44 percent
  3. Cost of buying new school supplies 42 percent
  4. My child’s safety at school 40 percent
  5. If my child will make friends at school 40 percent
  6. If my child is eating healthy after-school snacks 37 percent
  7. The quality of education my child is receiving 37 percent
  8. My child’s homework load 35 percent
  9. My child getting sick 34 percent
  10. If my child will do well academically 34 percent
Image for post
Image for post


  1. Tasty food
  2. Food I know my child will eat
  3. Healthy options
  4. Full of nutrients
  5. Something they can take without making a mess
Image for post
Image for post


  1. Forgotten to pack my child a lunch 45 percent
  2. Had to drop something off at my kid’s school they forgot 44 percent
  3. Given my child the wrong lunch 41 percent
  4. Gotten my child ready for school on the weekend 37 percent
  5. Forgotten to get my child ready when it was a school day 36 percent

>> Download the video & infographic for this research story <<

NOTE: All news copy and multimedia on this SWNS account is free to use as you see fit. Where research has been conducted, we ask that you credit the company which commissioned it.

Written by

SWNS is a UK and US-based news and media content agency with a proud 40-year history.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store