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Drugs and Obesity Top Threats to Children, Say Adults

By Jack Phillips
Epoch Times Staff
Created: August 15, 2011 Last Updated: August 15, 2011
Related articles: United States » National News
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HEAVY THREAT: Overweight children and their parents participate in group exercise as part of the ShapeDown anti-obesity program for adolescents and children on Nov. 13, 2010, in Aurora, Colo. Childhood obesity remained at the top for parents' health concerns for a fourth straight year. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

HEAVY THREAT: Overweight children and their parents participate in group exercise as part of the ShapeDown anti-obesity program for adolescents and children on Nov. 13, 2010, in Aurora, Colo. Childhood obesity remained at the top for parents' health concerns for a fourth straight year. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Adults consider drug abuse and childhood obesity the top two health concerns for children, according to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan, released Monday.

According to the most recent government figures as of 2010, there has been a slight increase in marijuana use, which is by far the most common illicit drug use by young people.

The survey, which was conducted by the university’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, was conducted in May 2011. The pollsters asked parents what they thought of 23 different health concerns, including Internet safety, drug use, and bullying.

The percentage of adults who thought both childhood obesity and drug abuse were a “big problem” among kids in their community were 33 percent for each problem.

“The perception of drug abuse as a big problem matches recent national data showing increasing use of marijuana and other drugs by U.S. teens,” Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the National Poll on Children’s Health, said in a statement.

Top 10 Health Concerns That Adults Think Affect U.S. Children:
1. Childhood obesity, 33 percent
2. Drug abuse, 33 percent
3. Smoking and tobacco use, 25 percent
4. Teen pregnancy, 24 percent
5. Bullying, 24 percent
6. Internet safety, 23 percent
7. Stress, 22 percent
8. Alcohol abuse, 20 percent
9. Driving accidents, 20 percent
10. Text messaging lewd images, 20 percent

Davis noted that childhood obesity remained at the top for parents’ health concerns for a “fourth straight year” but the “level of public concern has declined over the last few years in our poll.”

The decline may constitute a “warning to public health officials, because it indicates how the public is hearing national messages that previous increases in children’s obesity rates have recently leveled off,” he added.

Compared with white adults, black and Hispanic adults who were surveyed viewed drug abuse in children as a much greater problem. For blacks, 44 percent thought drug abuse ranked as the No. 1 problem and for Hispanics, 49 percent thought so.

Also among blacks, they viewed violence-related issues as bigger problems for kids in their communities.

“The top 10 child health concerns for black adults include gun-related injuries, school violence, and unsafe neighborhoods,” Davis said. “These same topics do not make white or Hispanic adults’ list of top 10 child health problems for children in their communities.”

The poll was funded by the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan Health System.

The poll was also administered to a randomly selected group of 2,130 adults over the age of 18, which was weighed to reflect population figures taken from the Census Bureau.




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