Poll: Obesity Tops List of Parent Wories for US Children

What are the three top health concerns for children in the US? The number one health threat, according to respondents, is obesity, followed closely by school violence and gun-related injuries, reports HNGN.

In a new survey by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, adults were asked what the biggest health concerns were for the children in their communities and for children nationwide. Twenty-nine percent believed that the biggest problem was childhood obesity in their community, and 55% said it was a "big problem" nationwide.

"Obesity remains a top child health problem overall, which has been a persistent concern in our annual top 10 polls along with others like bullying, smoking and drug abuse," said Matthew M. Davis, director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, in a press statement. "But this year's top 10 lists differ in key ways. School violence and gun-related injuries are on the list of big child health problems from a national perspective, but not a local community perspective."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years, with children from 6-11 having a 7% rate of obesity in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012.

A study which was released in January found that at least one child is seriously injured every hour by gunshot and that 6% die from their injuries. A frightening statistic is that a majority of the bullet sources are from firearms, especially handguns, found in the home.

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) is proposing a regulation to clarify who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law for reasons related to mental health, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a proposed regulation to address barriers preventing states from submitting limited information on those persons to the federal background check system," a White House statement read.

This year was the first time that gun violence in schools and communities has ever been included on the list, says Michele Richinick of MSNBC. The top three slots were childhood obesity, bullying, and drug abuse, in that order. Other worries included in the top ten were tobacco use, neglect, internet safety, teen pregnancy, and alcohol abuse.

Congress did not pass a bipartisan background checks bill last year, even though the vote was only months after the Sandy Hook massacre. The US has seen 110 mass shootings since 2009.

Christie Barnes, author of The Paranoid Parents Guide, in an interview on NPR, says that the headlines of the horrific things that happen to children should come with a caveat that states that the chances of this unspeakable act happening to your child is 1 in 10 million, or 1 in a million, or 1 in 20.

Barnes is not being sarcastic or naive, but rather, she says she wants parents to know that worry-wracked moms and dads can harm their own health, can destroy their relationships with other adults, and can be distracted from dangers that are more likely to happen to their own children. The best thing parents can do for their children is make sure they are using helmets and seatbelts.

The CDC, reports that in the most recent studies, 2011, the leading causes of death in children from 5-14 years of age were:

  • Accidents (unintentional injuries)
  • Cancer
  • Congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities
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