Childhood obesity top health concern for voters

Forget about health reform and high medical costs. Voters say more weight should be placed on childhood obesity.

A survey of 2,100 adults from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital reveals childhood obesity is the top health concern they think presidential candidates should focus on.

“Health care reform is a major topic during this election season, but much of that focuses on uninsured adults and the costs of health care,” study researcher and poll director Matthew Davis says. “The health of children usually is not the focus of the political talk.”

But many serious health problems for adults stem from behaviors and patterns that begin in childhood, Davis notes. Those include obesity, heart disease, diabetes and depression, which reinforces the need for policies of early intervention.

Survey respondents were asked to select the single most important child health issue from a list of 24 common concerns. About 17 percent of adults said childhood obesity is the top child health priority that presidential candidates should focus on; 15 percent said bullying is the top issue; 11 percent indicated drug abuse and 8 percent ranked child abuse and neglect as the top child health issue that needs to be addressed by the presidential candidates. 

Answers did not differ based on the respondents’ political party affiliation or race/ethnicity.

The survey was conducted in May by Knowledge Networks, Inc., for the hospital.

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