MICHIGAN -- The top 10 children’s health concerns among people of all races include childhood obesity, drug abuse, and smoking and teen pregnancy, according to a recent poll by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll of Children’s Health.
The annual poll, released August 15, asked Hispanic, Black and White respondents to rank the importance of 23 health concerns for children in their own community. Different ethnicities indicated varying levels of concern for specific health issues.
Overall, Blacks and Hispanics were more likely than Wwhites to rank children’s health issues as “a big problem” in the community.
The #2 children’s health concern for Hispanics was teen pregnancy, with 44% of respondents calling it “a big problem,” compared with 33% of Blacks and 19% of Whites. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanics had the highest rate of teen pregnancy in 2009, with 70.1 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, compared to a national rate of 39.1 births.
Additionally, child abuse and neglect ranked #4 in Hispanics’ children’s health concerns, with 38% of respondents considering the issue a major problem for children. But the issue did not even make the top 10 concerns for Blacks or Whites.
For Blacks, community safety concerns predominated. More than a third of Black respondents were extremely worried about the effects of gun-related injuries, school violence, and unsafe neighborhoods, issues that were not among the top concerns for Hispanics or Whites.
However, drug abuse and childhood obesity concerns were consistent across communities as primary concerns for all three groups.
Childhood obesity ranked as a higher concern for whites (#1) than for Blacks (#2) and Hispanics (#3), but only 30% of Whites considered the disease to be “a big problem,” while 44% of both Blacks and Hispanics considered it “a big problem”.
While concern about childhood obesity declined between 2009 and 2010, concern about drug abuse rose during that time. That concern is consistent with national estimates of increased drug use among youth between 2009 and 2010, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“With drug use increasing by nine percent in one year, it’s only natural that Americans are now waking up to the fact that this is a major public health concern that requires our immediate attention,” Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Chairman and CEO, Gen. Arthur T. Dean said in another press release.
Researchers also polled people on their apprehensions over bullying, Internet safety, stress, alcohol abuse, driving accidents and sexting (sexually explicit text-messaging). Concern about Internet safety and sexting have also increased overall, although these were of far greater concern for whites than blacks or Hispanics.
“This finding is a reminder that newly popular programs to address bullying and Internet safety concerns in many communities must not crowd out initiatives that address immediate safety issues related to neighborhood and interpersonal violence,” said Dr. Matthew Davis in a press release. Davis directs the yearly study and serves as an associate professor of children’s health at the University of Michigan Medical School.