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

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.

Maggie Goes On A Diet Not Light on Controversy: Children’s Book Targeting Kids 6-12 Raises Questions

A new book aimed at kids aged 6-12 tells the story of an overweight 14-year-old girl who goes on a diet and becomes popular after losing weight. “Maggie Goes on a Diet,” will be released in October, but the book is already embroiled in controversy. The cover features pudgy Maggie standing in front of a mirror holding a pink party dress that is clearly too small. Her reflection is a much thinner girl. According to a plot summary, Maggie “goes on a diet and is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal sized girl who becomes the school soccer star.

Teens Living Near Fast Food Eat More Fast Food, Study Finds

Following in the footsteps of the familiar movie maxim, “If you build it, they will come,” a new study found California teens that live in neighborhoods with lots of fast food restaurants eat lots of fast food. The study found that the average California teen lives or goes to school in an area with more than seven times as many fast food restaurants, liquor stores and convenience stores as healthy food options such as farmers markets and grocery stores. The unsurprising result: the average California teen is 18 percent more likely to eat fast food at least twice a week than teens who live in neighborhoods with more healthy options. All of that junk food leads to the intake of excess calories that often leads to obesity, diabetes and other health problems, according to the research. “We have put our children and youth in harm’s way,” said Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of the California Endowment, which funded the study.

Is Ronald McDonald a “Deep Fried Joe Camel” or Just Plain Creepy?

Watchdog group Corporate Accountability International may have missed an opportunity in their campaign to remove Ronald McDonald as the face of the ever-expanding, omnipresent fast-food chain.  CAI is claiming, as written in  Salon.com, that “Ronald’s the equivalent of a drug pusher for MSG-addicted kids.”

Peddling the fast food equivalent of smack to children would be bad enough, but let’s be honest, there’s a better reason: according to the research, Ronald is actually sort of repellant to kids.  A study done by the marketing company Ace Metric received a “remarkable” amount of responses that found Ronald to be “creepy,” according to a VP with the company. Rather obviously, McDonald’s disagrees. “For everyone who feels that way, there are more who feel the opposite,” McD’s chief creative officer Marlena Peleo-Lazar said.  “He is a force for good.”

That may be, but research by the University of Sheffield in England found that “clowns are universally disliked by children.”

“Some find them quite frightening and unknowable,” the study said, failing to use as source material the Seinfeld episode featuring Crazy Joe Davola dressed as Canio the clown in the opera Pagliacci (said clown’s dialog with Kramer in an alley, particularly dark) or that exceeding scary scene in Poltergeist when the clown attacks the little boy, only to have his own stuffings pulled out, or the cult movie classic “Killer Klowns From Outer Space.” So CAI may be correct that the floppy-shoed clown should be retired, just not for the reasons the firm says. Of course, Ronald McDonald isn’t the only clown in town.