#1 health concern is childhood obesity.

Adults see obesity as the top health threat to children in their communities—but not necessarily their own kids–and many believe the problem is getting worse, according to a new poll that asked respondents to rank 20 different health concerns.


For the third year in a row, childhood obesity topped the list with nearly 40 percent of the 2,064 adults surveyed ranking it as a “big problem.” Drug abuse (30 percent) and smoking and tobacco use (29 percent) rounded out the top three

When the results were broken down by race, black adults rated smoking as the top health threat to children, followed by teen pregnancy and obesity. Hispanic adults cited drug abuse; obesity was No. 2.

“At the national level, obesity as a problem is on par with youth smoking; both have rates similar to non-marijuana illicit drug use among teens,” said pediatrician Matthew Davis, director of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. [If marijuana use is included, teen drug use is a substantially more widespread issue than the other two.]“Health risks from all three are quite insidious, for the most part — with the consequences felt many years down the road,” Davis said.

The survey included adults who had children in the home and those who did not. Though adults appear to recognize the problem, managing it at both the individual and community level remains a challenge.

Parents often have a difficult time recognizing obesity in their own children or dealing with the problem themselves. But even when they do, “it’s quite difficult to change basic behaviors that have lead to obesity in the first place,” said Davis.

Obstacles include an abundance of cheap, unhealthy food, a fairly sedentary culture, and fewer opportunities for physical activities than in the past.

“At end of the day unhealthy food is cheaper,” Davis said. “Imagine if we subsidized the cost of broccoli and asparagus instead of the cost of corn? But it takes a lot of political will to change systems that have existed for decades.”

Davis will moderate an upcoming Childhood Obesity policy forum at The University of Michigan’s C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The top 10 health concerns for children:

1. Childhood obesity
2. Drug abuse
3. Smoking and tobacco use
4. Internet safety, 25 percent
5. Stress, 24 percent
6. Bullying, 23 percent
7. Teen pregnancy, 23 percent
8. Child abuse and neglect, 21 percent
9. Alcohol abuse, 20 percent
10. Not enough opportunities for physical activity, 20 percent

Via Chicago Tribune