“Obesity remains a top child health problem overall, which has been a persistent concern in our annual top 10 polls,” says Dr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, in a news release.
Each year, the poll takes the pulse of U.S. adults about child health issues as a way to help inform program priorities in medicine and public health. The eighth annual survey measures current public opinions, perceptions and priorities regarding major health care issues and trends for U.S. children and people in their communities. The organization is part of the University of Michigan Health System Division of General Pediatrics.
Nationwide, 55 percent of those surveyed listed child obesity as their primary issue, followed by bullying, drug abuse and smoking. For the local poll, 29 percent named childhood obesity number one, followed by smoking, drug abuse and bullying.
Survey participants are asked to weigh in on more than two dozen categories from depression and drug abuse to food allergies and sexting. Obesity has remained in the top three for every year of the survey. Officials hope that polls like these keep the conversation going. The last thing they want is for people to consider this a dead-end issue with no chance of breakthrough.
“Childhood obesity is a serious issue. People don’t seem to understand how it can lead to health problems later on in life,” says Dr. Julie Taylor, family medicine physician at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “It’s important to make sure that you start good habits young so you can continue them along the way.”
This year as part of the poll, other child health concerns rated as ‘big problems’ for children and teens across the U.S. included: stress, unsafe neighborhoods, suicide, hunger, motor vehicle accidents, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS and Attention Deficit Disorder.