Top 5 kids’ health concerns

What concerns adults most about their kids' health? Quite a lot, 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.

So what's the most concerning health issue for kids? Read on>>


5. Bullying 


Bullying edges out stress and alcohol abuse to rank in the top five health concerns for kids today.

Another study from University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital out earlier this summer suggested bullying should actually earn some attention in the presidential election. In fact, roughly 15 percent of those surveyed said bullying is the top child health priority presidential candidates should focus on.

Photo: Jonah Mowry, 14, of Lake Forest, Calif., center, is hugged by his parents Kevin, at left, and Peggysue after speaking during an Anti-Bullying rally on the steps of City Hall, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

4. Drug abuse


Adults rank drug abuse in kids as the No. 4 biggest health concern. It’s no surprise as to why: Nearly one in five students between the ages of 12 and 17 do drugs, drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes during the school day, a  recent study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found.

New research also shows that using pot makes us stupid: Teens who routinely smoke marijuana risk a long-term drop in their IQ, researchers say.

3. Smoking



More than a third pointed to smoking and tobacco use as the biggest health concerns for kids. 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.

Photo credit: Bill Longshaw

2. Childhood obesity

Apparently, obesity is a big problem for everyone (no pun intended). Obesity rates among children ages 6 to 11 have quadrupled over the past four decades, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Today, about a fifth of American children are obese.

And it’s no secret there are serious consequences: Childhood obesity puts kids at a higher risk for serious illnesses like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma and certain types of cancer.

It also takes a hefty toll on our wallets: The obesity epidemic costs our nation $117 billion per year in direct medical expenses and indirect costs, with childhood obesity alone costing up to $14 billion per year in direct health care costs.

Childhood obesity topped the list last year, but another issue managed to take the cake, so to speak.

See also: Obesity may accelerate cognitive decline

Obesity threatening older Americans

Obesity rate tops 30 percent in 12 states

Photo credit: Clare Bloomfield

1. Lack of exercise


Lack of exercise tops the list of the biggest concerns about kids’ health, as cited as a “big problem” by 39 percent of adults surveyed.

“Childhood obesity remains a top concern, and adults know it is certainly linked to lack of exercise,” Matthew Davis, director of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. “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.”

Though clearly connected to childhood obesity, “not enough opportunities for physical activities” didn’t even make the top 10 in the past few years.

Photo: Gregory Kelley, 15, of Princeton, Fla. does group exercises before first lady Michelle Obama attends a WedMD town hall to address children's health and wellness issues at the YMCA Friday, Feb. 10, 2012, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky).

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