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Obesity, Bullying, Drug Abuse Top Child Health Concerns in National Survey

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Obesity, bullying, and drug abuse were ranked the top three child national health concerns in a nationwide survey released this week.

When asked about their own communities, though, adult respondents gave slightly different answers. They ranked obesity, smoking, and tobacco use, and drug abuse as their top three concerns, according to the survey, which was conducted on behalf of the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. There were 2,027 respondents who were 18 or older.

"These top 10 lists have strong similarities—obesity, smoking and tobacco use, bullying and drug abuse are in the top four concerns among adults for children's health in their local communities and for children across the country," the report says. "There are also key differences: school violence and gun-related injuries are among the top 10 concerns for children's health across the United States, but not for children in adults' local communities."

Here's the full top 10 in a graphic from the report.

childhealthpoll.JPG

So how can schools use this information, anyway?

Schools are increasingly promoting efforts to support student health and well-being alongside their academic programs. And many places, such as Nebraska, are working to track the effects of health and wellness interventions on academic achievement.

For many of these efforts, community buy-in can be the difference between success and failure. And in many districts, the priorities set by administrators may not  be recognized as problems in the community. Representative surveys like this might help schools gauge how much of an uphill battle it will be to get community support for new programs. Judging from these results, adults in your district will likely recognize the need for interventions that target obesity and drug abuse.

But it starts to get more interesting when you look at the discrepancies between the local and national charts. There are a few things that respondents identified for the first time in the poll's history as nationwide concerns (school violence and gun-related injuries), but they don't sense that they are problems in their own communities. These might be good things for schools to be aware of when they are initiating a new security measure or launching new mental health programs, for example.

What child health concerns would adults in your community identify? Would they match up with the concerns your schools have identified?

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