Child health concerns vary among different races, ethnicities

August 19, 2013

Adults across the U.S. rate childhood obesity as the top health concern for children in 2013, but priorities vary based on racial and ethnic backgrounds, according to a new University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

In the poll's annual top 10 list, a nationwide sample of adults were asked to identify the top 10 biggest for kids in their communities. Overall, is rated at the top of the list (38 percent of adults said obesity is a 'big problem' for children in their communities). This is followed by drug abuse at 34 percent and smoking and tobacco use (32 percent).

The top three health issues are the same for whites, who made up the majority of the 1,996 respondents who were nationally representative. Hispanics also rated childhood obesity at number one (47 percent) but rank bullying number two at 43 percent and drug abuse third at 39 percent.

Among blacks, the differences are more striking. This group ranks childhood obesity sixth. Smoking and tobacco use is first, (40 percent), followed by drug abuse (34 percent) and (33 percent). Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, came in fourth and fifth.

"Childhood obesity remains a top concern, but it is essential to look at differences in perception based on race and ethnicity," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health. "Medical and public health providers should be aware that different communities could have different priorities about what health problems are most important."

The video will load shortly

The strong link of many of the top 10 child health concerns to of children and their families indicates that the public understands the powerful role of behavior in health – in terms of short-term impact and long-term consequences, says Davis, associate professor of pediatrics and at the U-M Medical School and associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

  1. Childhood obesity
  2. Drug abuse
  3. Smoking and
  4. Bullying
  5. Stress
  6. Alcohol abuse
  7. Child abuse and neglect
  8. Teen pregnancy
  9. Internet safety
  10. Depression

"Messaging from medical professionals, through public health programs and in the popular media about the risks of childhood obesity is widespread. Recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that rates of obesity in early childhood may be decreasing for the first time in some states, which may be attributable to the high level of concern and responses from parents, families and communities," says Davis.

"Still, we know obesity among children remains substantially higher than it was in generations past. So this poll presents good news that much of the public recognizes the need to keep working hard on this problem." Davis says he hopes the results of this poll shine a light on how different communities prioritize the threats to children's health in their own communities.

"Not all groups see through the same lens. The differences we see based on race and ethnicity likely reflect street-level realities. To be successful, programs will likely need to respect and address community-specific health priorities for improving and safeguarding child health," he says.

Explore further: Couch-potato kids are biggest child health problem in the US, adults say

More information: Full report: C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health mottnpch.org/sites/default/fil … ents/081913Top10.pdf

Related Stories

Couch-potato kids are biggest child health problem in the US, adults say

August 20, 2012
Adults across the U.S. rate not getting enough exercise as the top health concern for children in 2012, according to a new University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Presidential candidates should address childhood obesity and bullying, poll says

June 18, 2012
During this presidential election season, there will be plenty of debate between the candidates on the issues. But when it comes to childhood health concerns, a new poll shows many adults agree on the top priorities they ...

Most Michigan parents, grandparents prefer research hospitals for pediatric care

May 13, 2013
Four out of five parents and grandparents in Michigan say they'd rather take children to a hospital that does medical research for children than one that does not, according to a new poll from the University of Michigan.

Community-based programs may help prevent childhood obesity

June 17, 2013
When it comes to confronting childhood obesity, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conclude that community-based approaches are important. A systematic review of childhood obesity prevention ...

82 percent of adults support banning smoking when kids are in the car

July 22, 2013
A new poll shows 82 percent of adults support banning smoking in cars when children under 13 are riding in the vehicle.

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.