Kids aren’t exercising enough—and adults are getting sick of it.
Lack of exercise tops the list of the biggest concerns about kids’ health, according to a new survey of American adults, as cited as a “big problem” by 39 percent of adults surveyed. That’s followed closely by childhood obesity (38 percent) and smoking and tobacco use (34 percent), according to the findings from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.
Lack of exercise stole the top spot from childhood obesity, which topped the list last year. Though clearly connected, “not enough opportunities for physical activities” didn’t even make the top 10 in the past few years.
Drug abuse (33 percent) and bullying (29 percent) were among the top five concerns.
The jump in the adults’ concern about exercise may be due recent public health messages focused at this topic—such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign—researchers said. They also cited the fact that exercise has other benefits besides prevention of obesity—such as better attention and learning in school and improved sense of well-being.
“Childhood obesity remains a top concern, and adults know it is certainly linked to lack of exercise,” Matthew Davis, director of the poll, said in a statement. “But 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.”
Adults also rated drug abuse and bullying as big problems for children’s health. Rounding out the rest of the top 10 concerns were stress (27 percent), alcohol abuse (23 percent), teen pregnancy (23 percent), Internet safety (22 percent) and child abuse and neglect (20 percent).
The poll’s results also varied based on race and ethnicity. For example, Hispanic adults were more likely to rate childhood obesity first, while blacks were more concerned about smoking. Black and Hispanic adults both identified sexually transmitted infections as a greater concern for kids in their communities than did white adults.