Obesity, Drugs, Smoking Among Top Health Concerns for Children

In the 2008 National Poll on Children's Health adults ranked obesity as the number one health concern. For this poll conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital adults rated 20 health concerns for children in their communities along the following criteria: Big problem; somewhat of a problem; not much of a problem; and not a problem at all.

Obesity and overweight rates for children and teens have been steadily rising in America. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) nearly 40 per cent of children and adolescents are overweight and 16.3 per cent are obese.

Children who are obese face serious health problems, including asthma, joint pain, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Obesity is a difficult condition to treat. In the poll parents reported that they discuss at length limiting junk food and physical activity. However, most do not curtail TV time. The study also found that bullying was a major concern for 30 per cent of parents of obese children.

Eleven other concerns were top of mind for adults. Here's how they stacked up:

Number 2: Drug Abuse

Drug abuse was more likely to be ranked as a major health concern among adults with lower incomes. For fifty per cent of Hispanic adults it was a major problem, compared to 35 per cent of African-American adults and 29 per cent of white adults.

Number 3: Smoking

In 2007 smoking was the number one health concern. In the 2008 poll 32 per cent of American adults rated it as a big problem, dropping it to the third spot. However, it's still the main health problem for 52 per cent of Hispanic adults.

Number 4: Bullying

For the first year bullying made the list, resonating strongly with both parents and adults without children. Middle-class families were more likely to rate it as a big problem than wealthy adults or adults with lower incomes.

Number 5: Internet Safety

Twenty-seven per cent of adults rated this as a major health concern for children. It was more important to adults with household incomes of $100,000 or more per year.

Number 6: Child Abuse and Neglect

Twenty-five per cent of adults rated this as a major health concern. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau three children die every day of abuse in America. Of these fatalities 85 per cent are younger than six years old.

Number 7: Teen Pregnancy

Teen pregnancy consistently ranks as the number one child health problem for African-Americans (35 per cent). Thirty-three per cent of Hispanic adults and 21 per cent of white adults rated it as a big problem.

Number 8: Alcohol Abuse

Twenty-three per cent of adults rated alcohol as a big problem. This health concern dropped from fourth spot in 2007. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism there are 10.8 million underage drinkers in America.

Number 9: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Sexually Transmitted Infection

AD/HD made the list for the first time in 2008, with 21 per cent of adults rating it as a big health problem. Sexually transmitted infections also came in at ninth spot; adults who didn't have children were more likely to rate it as a big problem.

Number 10: Chemicals in the Environment and Not Enough Opportunities for Physical Activity

Thirty-three per cent of Hispanic adults and 25 per cent of African-Americans rated environmental toxins as a big problem, putting this issue on the list for the first time. Nineteen per cent rated insufficient opportunities for physical activity as a top health concern.