Couch-potato kids are biggest child health problem in the U.S., adults say

‘Not enough exercise’ cited as top children’s health concern, obesity second, according to U-M’s National Poll on Children’s Health annual top 10 list

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Adults across the U.S. rate not getting enough exercise as the top health concern for children in 2012, according to a new University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

In the poll’s annual top 10 list, a nationwide sample of adults were asked to identify the top 10 biggest health concerns for kids in their communities.

For the first time, not enough exercise was rated by most adults at the top of the list (39 percent). That was followed closely by childhood obesity (38 percent) and smoking and tobacco use (34 percent).

“Childhood obesity remains a top concern, and adults know it is certainly linked to lack of exercise,” says Matthew M. Davis M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.  “The strong perception that lack of exercise is a threat to children’s health may reflect effective recent public health messages from programs such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign.

 “But adequate exercise offers many more benefits other than weight loss or preventing obesity – such as better attention and learning in school and improved sense of well-being,” says Davis, associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The rest of the poll results were:

4. Drug abuse (33 percent)

 5. Bullying (29 percent)

6. Stress (27 percent)

7. Alcohol abuse (23 percent)

8. Teen pregnancy (23 percent)

 9. Internet safety (22 percent)

10. Child abuse and neglect (20 percent)

 “The strong connection of many of the top 10 child health concerns to health behaviors among children and adolescents underscores the importance of public programs and communication initiatives — for example, those designed to prevent drug abuse, tobacco use, alcohol abuse and teen pregnancy,” Davis says.

The poll’s results varied based on race/ethnicity. Hispanic adults were more likely to rate childhood obesity first (44 percent), followed by not enough exercise (38 percent), and also rated drug abuse higher than smoking and tobacco use. Black adults had higher levels of concern about smoking and tobacco use, ranking that most often (43 percent). They also had high levels of concern about racial inequality, ranking it seventh on the list, and gun-related injuries, ranking that ninth. Black and Hispanic adults both identified sexually transmitted infections as a greater concern for kids in their communities than did white adults.

“Child health varies across communities, and these results emphasize a need for local programs that respect and address community-specific health priorities for youth,” Davis says.

Broadcast-quality video is available on request. See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_laRzYkhjjQ

Full report: C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health http://mottnpch.org/reports-surveys/top-10-child-health-concerns-exercise-obesity-smoking-lead-list

Website: Check out the Poll’s new website: MottNPCH.org.

You can search and browse over 60 NPCH Reports, suggest topics for future polls, share your opinion in a quick poll, and view information on popular topics. The National Poll on Children’s Health team welcomes feedback on the new website, including features you’d like to see added. To share feedback, e-mail NPCH@med.umich.edu.

 Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mottnpch

 Twitter: @MottNPCH

Additional resources:

  1. Not Enough Exercise: Let’s Move: http://www.letsmove.gov/
  2. Childhood Obesity:  Healthy Eating for Children: http://www.mottchildren.org/health-library/tn9188
  3. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Protecting Your Child from Tobacco Use: http://www.cdc.gov/features/BackToSchool/
  4. Drug Abuse: The Partnership for a Drug Free America: http://www.drugfree.org/
  5. Bullying: StopBullying.gov: http://www.stopbullying.gov
  6. Stress: Stress in Children and Teens: http://www.mottchildren.org/health-library/ug1832
  7. Alcohol Abuse: Stop Underage Drinking: https://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/parents.aspx
  8. Teen Pregnancy: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/
  9. Internet Safety: Enough is Enough - Making the Internet Safer for Children and Families: http://www.internetsafety101.org/
  10. Child Abuse and Neglect:  National Parent Helpline: http://www.nationalparenthelpline.org/

Purpose/Funding: The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health – based at the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan and funded by the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and the University of Michigan Health System – is designed to measure major health care issues and trends for U.S. children.

Data Source: This report presents findings from a nationally representative household survey conducted exclusively by GfK Custom Research, LLC (GfK) for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital via a method used in many published studies.  The survey was administered in May 2012 to a randomly selected, stratified group of adults age 18 or older (n=2,144), from GfK’s web-enabled KnowledgePanel®, that closely resembles the U.S. population. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect population figures from the Census Bureau. The survey completion rate was 62 percent among panel members contacted to participate. The margin of error is ±2 to 4 percentage points and higher among subgroups.

To learn more about GfK Custom Research, visit www.knowledgenetworks.com.

Findings from the U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health do not represent the opinions of the investigators or the opinions of the University of Michigan.     ###

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