Health Concerns for Kids

Childhood obesity and drug abuse are of highest concern

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Children can be a handful and worrying about their health is just part of the job. For some parents, weight and drugs are on the top of that worry list - what's on the top of yours?

Childhood obesity and drug abuse have long been recognized as risky behaviors that are cause for much concern. Now, new risks that have evolved from technology have also taken a spot on this list.

"You can do more than just worry - be involved in your child's life."

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health conducted its fifth annual survey of the top ten health concerns for children. Adults were asked to rate 23 different health issues and the top 10 are:

  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. Sexting - 20 percent

This is the first time drug abuse has made it to the top of the list and that coincides with the increasing evidence from national data that kids are using marijuana and other drugs, says Mathew Davis, M.D., director of the National Poll on Children's Health and associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan Medical school.

Childhood obesity has been on the top for four consecutive years, so it comes to no surprise that it's there again, Dr. Davis adds. It seems like public concern for obesity is declining though, which is consistent with data found by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They found that child obesity rates have leveled off in the past two decades.

What's more intriguing is that parents have rated technology-related health concerns as "big problems, Dr. Davis says. Sexting is texting sexual messages or images. This phenomenon, which is mostly popular among adolescents, has made it to the top 10 list because parents believe victimization and interpersonal conflicts can arise.

Perception for biggest problems was also different for each ethnicity - African American, White and Hispanics. African Americans were more likely to rate violence issues as the biggest health concern, which was not the same for white or Hispanics.

With that being said, community programs need to address a range of issues from neighborhood safety and interpersonal violence to bullying and internet safety concerns, Dr. Davis believes.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 16, 2011
Last Updated:
October 21, 2012