The sixth annual survey by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll
Three times each year the NPCH (national poll on children’s health) measure the opinions and perceptions of a nationally representative sample of approximately 2,000 U.S. households with and without children. For the survey adults are the respondents and all responses are anonymous.
The NPCH team is led by Dr. Matthew M. Davis, MD, M.A.P.P., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, and Public Policy at the University of Michigan Medical School and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, who serves as the director.
The overall results of the survey of children’s health concerns listed as a “Big Problem’ in the top five are as follows;
Not enough exercise came in as the top concern of 2012. According to Director, Dr. Davis, 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. “But adequate 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.”
One of the biggest reasons behind lack of exercise is due to technology. Researchers from the University of Montreal found the average time a child spends watching television is 8.8 hours a week.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children over two years of age should not view more than two hours of television daily.
Childhood obesity ranked second. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed approximately 12.5 million children and adolescents aged two to nineteen years of age are obese.
According to the CDC the influences on obesity include advertising of less healthy foods with nearly half the U.S. middle and high schools allowing advertising of unhealthy foods. Higher energy dense foods and sugary beverages are also a reason behind the surge of obesity. A recent study among children showed that a high-energy-dense diet is associated with a higher risk for excess body fat during childhood.
Smoking and tobacco use ranked third at 34%. According to the Department of Health and Human Services in 2011, around 23% of high school students reported current use of some type of tobacco product and 18% smoked cigarettes.
According to the 2012 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report “Most of these young people never considered the long-term health consequences associated with tobacco use when they started smoking; and nicotine, a highly addictive drug, causes many to continue smoking well into adulthood, often with deadly consequences.”
Drug abuse in the fourth spot at 33% and according to the Monitoring the Future Survey there is reason for concern. From 2007 to 2012, daily marijuana use increased from 14.2% to 17.0% among tenth graders and is currently at 22.9% for 12th graders. The use of synthetic marijuana known as K2 or Spice remain unchanged from last year with 4.4% of eighth graders, 8.8% of 10th graders and 11.3% of high school seniors using the drug.
In the fifth spot was bullying at 29%. In April 2012, DoSomething.org had launched an interactive Facebook application, the Bully App in partnership with the movie Bully where students reported their experiences with bullying in their schools. The highlights of the findings revealed the total number of kids being bullied at school or cyber bullying anywhere reported the following figures of kids bullied; 29% ninth grade, 28% 10th grade, 23% 11th grade and 22% 12th grade.
Among the findings reported 54% of teens said the most frequent place of bullying was the classroom, and the most common locations of bullying in schools were as follows; online 70%, hallways 69%, cafeterias 64% and classrooms 54%.
According to the bully app of over 50,000 students a sad picture of reality came to light “Nearly every student (97%) reported some adverse experience with bullying, whether directly or as witness to abuse of peers, with the overwhelming majority (87%) reporting bullying on a weekly basis. Despite all this, students remain optimistic about creating safer and more inclusive school environments.”
The National Poll on Children’s Health Concerns can be viewed online at Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.