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Updated 9:00 AM September 7, 2009
 

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  Research
Obesity remains No. 1 health problem for kids in 2009

Public concern about childhood obesity is on the rise and it continues to outrank all other health problems as the No. 1 concern for children in the United States.

According to a report released by the C. S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, the proportion of adults who believe childhood obesity is a big problem has increased from 35 percent of adults in 2008 to 42 percent in 2009.

While obesity has ranked as the top overall health concern for kids in the U.S. for the last two years, it has not always been the case for Hispanics or blacks.

"This is the first year the three major racial/ethnic groups all agree," says Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the poll. "In 2008, among whites the chief concern was obesity, while among blacks the chief concern was teen pregnancy and among Hispanics the chief concern was smoking."

In May 2009, the poll asked adults to rate 23 different health concerns for children living in their communities.

Top 10 overall health concerns rated as a big problem for U.S. children in 2009:

1. Childhood obesity. Forty-two percent of U.S. adults rate childhood obesity as a big problem. In 2008, 35 percent of adults rated childhood obesity as the top overall health concern for children. In 2007 it was ranked No. 3.

2. Drug abuse. Thirty-six percent of U.S. adults rate drug abuse as a big problem for children and has held at No. 2 since 2007.

3. Smoking. Ranked No. 1 in 2007, smoking continues to hold the No. 3 position since 2008, with 32 percent of U.S. adults rating it as a big problem for kids.

4. Bullying. Holding at No. 4, 31 percent of U.S. adults rate bullying as a big problem for children.

5. Internet safety. Continuing at No. 5, 31 percent of U.S. adults consider Internet safety a big problem for kids, slightly up from 27 percent in 2008.

6. Child abuse and neglect. This issue, which was ranked No. 10 in 2007, holds at No. 6 and was rated as a big problem among 29 percent of U.S. adults, up from 25 percent in 2008.

7. Alcohol abuse. Up from No. 8 in 2008, 26.5 percent of U.S. adults consider alcohol abuse a big problem. For the 2008 poll, 23 percent of adults listed alcohol abuse as a health concern for kids. In 2007, alcohol abuse was ranked fourth overall.

8. Stress. New to the list in 2009, 26 percent of U.S. adults rate stress as a big problem for children.

9. Not enough opportunities for physical activity. Up one spot from 2008, nearly 25 percent of U.S. adults rate this as a big problem for kids.

10. Teen pregnancy. Falling three places from No. 7 to No. 10, 24 percent of U.S. adults rated teen pregnancy as a big problem in 2009.

The National Poll on Children's Health also found that adults from low-income households making $30,000 per year or less rated smoking and tobacco use as the top child health concern, while the middle and highest income households making $30,000 to more than $100,000 per year rated childhood obesity as the biggest health concern for kids.

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