Student Well-Being

Lack of Exercise, Obesity Rank as Adults’ Big Concerns for Kids

By Bryan Toporek — August 21, 2012 1 min read
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Adults consider a lack of exercise to be the most pressing health problem for American youths, with childhood obesity not trailing far behind, according to the sixth annual C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

The survey, released Monday, gauged the opinions of 2,144 adults ages 18 or older back in May. Respondents were given a list of health issues and asked to rate how big a problem they considered each to be.

“Not enough exercise” finished as the most popular response, with 39 percent of respondents calling it a “big” problem. Right behind exercise comes “childhood obesity,” which finished with 38 percent of survey-takers rating it a “big” problem. Drug abuse, bullying, and stress rounded out the top five.

“The strong perception that lack of exercise is a threat to children’s health may reflect effective recent public-health messages from programs such as first lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign,” suggested Dr. Matthew M. Davis, the director of the poll, in a statement.

“But lack of exercise offers many more benefits other than weight loss or preventing obesity—such as better attention and learning in school and improved sense of well-being,” Davis said. (There’s certainly research to back that point up.)

The survey also reveals divided adult health concerns about children by race/ethnicity. Of any racial group, Hispanics rated childhood obesity the biggest concern, with 44 percent of respondents calling it a big problem. Meanwhile, only 32 percent of black adults considered childhood obesity a big problem, but 43 percent of African-Americans thought smoking and tobacco use among children was.

The “not enough exercise” option just debuted in this year’s poll; however, childhood obesity tied with drug abuse as the most pressing concern in the 2011 edition of the poll.

Childhood obesity has ranked in the top three concerns each year since the poll’s debut in 2007.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.