Childhood Obesity, Drug Abuse Top Health Concerns Adults Have About Children

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Childhood obesity and drug abuse are now the top health concerns for kids rated by adults, according to a new poll by University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The fifth annual survey of the top 10 health concerns for kids asked more than 2,000 adults of different races and ethnicities to rate 23 different health concerns for children living in their communities.

Most of the top concerns pertain to long-recognized risky behaviors for youth: drug, alcohol and tobacco use, as well as teen pregnancy. The recent results also suggest that parents are paying attention to new safety risks associated with the Internet and other technologies, including sexting.

“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 an article on the University health system website.

Earlier this month, JJIE wrote about a report that says teen addiction is “the largest preventable and most costly public health problem in America today.”

Davis also made comments about childhood obesity:

“Although obesity remains atop the list of child health concerns for the fourth straight year, the level of public concern has declined over the last few years in our poll. This may be 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.”

Concerning childhood obesity, JJIE recently wrote about a controversial children’s book called Maggie Goes On A Diet.

Top 10 Health Concerns Adults Have for Children in 2011

The top concerns overall and the percentage of adults who rated each item as a “big problem” in the survey:

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

Top 10 Health Concerns Adults by Race/Ethnicity Have for Children in 2011

The top health concerns for children and the percentage of adults who rated each item as a “big problem” in the survey:


1. Drug abuse, 44 percent
2. Childhood obesity, 44 percent
3. Smoking and tobacco use, 36 percent
4. Gun related injuries, 36 percent
5. School violence, 35 percent
6. Unsafe neighborhoods, 34 percent
7. Alcohol abuse, 33 percent
8. Teen pregnancy, 33 percent
9. Sexually transmitted infections, 31 percent
10. Sexting, 31 percent


1. Drug abuse, 49 percent
2. Teen pregnancy, 44 percent
3. Childhood obesity, 44 percent
4. Child abuse and neglect, 38 percent
5. Stress,38 percent
6. Driving accidents, 37 percent
7. Bullying, 37 percent
8. Smoking and tobacco use, 35 percent
9. Internet safety, 34 percent
10. Sexually transmitted infections, 33 percent


1. Childhood obesity, 30 percent
2. Drug abuse, 28 percent
3. Smoking and tobacco use, 22 percent
4. Internet safety, 21 percent
5. Bullying, 21 percent
6. Teen pregnancy, 19 percent
7. Stress, 18 percent
8. Alcohol abuse, 17 percent
9. Sexting, 16 percent
10. Driving accidents, 16 percent

JJIE also has resources about drugs and alcohol and is currently seeking your questions about addiction and recovery for a new column by a substance abuse expert.

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