Adults’ Top 10 Health Concerns for Kids

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
This post was written by Jessica Fornarotto

Adults rate drug abuse and childhood obesity as the top health concerns for kids in their communities, according to the fifth annual survey of the top 10 health concerns for kids conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

In May 2011, the poll asked adults to rate 23 different health concerns for children living in their communities. The top 10 overall health concerns for U.S. children in 2011 and the percentage of adults who rate each item as a “big problem” are the following:

  1. Childhood obesity: 33 percent
  2. Drug abuse: 33 percent
  3. Smoking and tobacco use: 25 percent
  4. Teen pregnancy: 24 percent
  5. Bullying: 24 percent
  6. Internet safety: 23 percent
  7. Stress: 22 percent
  8. Alcohol abuse: 20 percent
  9. Driving accidents: 20 percent
  10. Sexting: 20 percent

The poll also found that adults’ perceptions of top health problems for children in their own communities differ by race/ethnicity. The poll found that for both blacks and Hispanics, drug abuse was their top health concern, at 44 and 49 percent, respectively. However, drug abuse for white populations came in second at 28 percent, while childhood obesity came in first at 30 percent. Meanwhile, 44 percent of both blacks and Hispanics chose childhood obesity as their concern. When ranking smoking and tobacco use, 36 percent of blacks and 22 percent of whites both ranked this issue at number three, and 35 percent of Hispanics ranked it at number eight.

According to Matthew Davis, MD, director of the poll and associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School, “The perception of drug abuse as a big problem matches recent national data showing increasing use of marijuana and other drugs by U.S. teens. Meanwhile, although obesity remains atop the list of child health concerns for the fourth straight year, the level of public concern has declined over the last few years in our poll. This may be a warning to public health officials, because it indicates how the public is hearing national messages that previous increases in children’s obesity rates have recently leveled off.”

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