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Obesity Ranks as Second-Biggest Child-Health Concern Among Adults

Bullying is the only health-related concern for children that outpaces obesity among U.S. adults, according to the latest C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Of the 2,100 adults surveyed back in May, 56 percent across all racial/ethnic groups labeled obesity a "big problem" for children, while 57 percent said the same about bullying. Drug abuse (52 percent), internet safety (49 percent), and stress (46 percent) rounded out the top five. Two years ago, 55 percent of all adults labeled childhood obesity as a "big problem" nationally.

When responses were broken down by race and ethnicity, the poll unearthed differing opinions about the issue. Obesity, drug abuse, and bullying ranked among the top three child-health concerns for white and Hispanic adults, but obesity ranked sixth for black adults. Black adults ranked bullying (71 percent), racial inequities (61 percent), and school violence (61 percent) as their three biggest concerns; meanwhile, racial inequities didn't rank among the top 10 for either Hispanic or white adults. (Only 17 percent of white adults labeled racial inequities as a "big concern.")

Courtesy of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, here's a look at the top 10 child-health concerns for each racial/ethnic group surveyed: 


"This year's survey taps into some key differences across racial and ethnic groups on which issues are viewed as the biggest problems for children in our country," said poll co-director Dr. Gary Freed in a statement.

"One of the most striking differences was seen in how black and white respondents viewed racial inequity: Black adults, but not their white counterparts, recognize unequal treatment as a child health concern. In addition, the top 10 rating among black adults for school violence and gun-related injuries mirror national attention regarding the safety of black youth."

Considering the progress being made nationally with regard to childhood obesity over recent years—not to mention the rise of other issues afflicting children—it's perhaps no surprise to see obesity fall from its perch as the top child-health concern among adults. It's worth noting, however, that while bullying supplanted obesity slightly in this year's poll, 55 percent of all adults labeled childhood obesity as a "big problem" nationally two years ago. That means the percentage of adults significantly concerned about childhood obesity actually rose slightly from 2014 to 2016.

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