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Updated 1:00 PM July 23, 2008
 

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Obesity No. 1 health concern for kids in 2008

As children’s waistlines continue to grow, so have concerns about childhood obesity.

According to a report released by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern for kids in 2008, topping smoking and drug abuse. In 2007, childhood obesity ranked third among parents’ top 10 overall health concerns for kids.

“The National Poll on Children’s Health report clearly shows that adults in America are very concerned about the problem of childhood obesity and its causes,” says Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the National Poll on Children’s Health. “While recent studies have suggested that the childhood obesity epidemic may be leveling off, the results of this poll reveal that adults in the U.S. are still very much concerned about this issue.”

The poll, which asked adults to rate 20 different health problems for children living in their communities, reveals that bullying also now ranks among the public’s top concerns for children’s health, ahead of teen pregnancy and alcohol abuse. Other new topics added to this year’s list are Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and environmental toxins.

Also making the public’s overall list of top 10 health concerns for kids in 2008: Internet safety, abuse and neglect, sexually transmitted infections and lack of opportunities for physical activity for kids. The top 10 health concerns for 2007 that did not make this year’s list: Motor vehicle accidents and school violence.

Issues that did not rank among the top 10 overall health concerns, but were included in the National Poll on Children's Health include: driving accidents, depression, asthma, eating disorders, neighborhood safety, school violence, autism and suicide.

The National Poll on Children’s Health also found that adults who did not have children in their households were more likely than parents to list drug abuse, smoking and tobacco use, Internet safety, and sexually transmitted infections as top health concerns.

Additionally, adults from low-income households (less than $30,000 per year) viewed drug abuse, smoking and tobacco use, and teen pregnancy as the biggest health concerns for kids. Adults, however, with higher household incomes (more than $100,000 per year) were more likely to rate obesity, Internet safety and drug abuse as major issues.

“We found multiple difference in the priority of health problems for kids in the minds of adults by race, ethnicity, income or some other characteristic. What this tells us is that there is no one-size-fits-all public health approach to these issues,” says Davis, associate professor of general pediatrics and internal medicine at the Medical School and associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Health. “So as doctors, nurses and public health officials work to find ways to help their community deal with health issues, it’s important that they remember to tailor their approach to the priorities of the community.”

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