Australians believe the number one health problem for children and teenagers is excessive screen time.
And while obesity comes in at number two, many parents see it as a community problem rather than related to their own children.
The findings are from the first Australian Child Health Poll, a quarterly national survey of 2000 households with and without children, conducted on behalf of Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.
Participants were asked about 29 issues, resulting in a top 10 of child health problems that included illegal drug use, which rated number one in lower-income households.
The poll’s director Dr Anthea Rhodes said excessive screen time was perceived as a big health problem across all sections of the community, including by parents of very young children.
‘Excessive screen time is not a traditional health problem, as such, so how do we provide care to children and their families struggling with what they have told us is a significant issue?’ she asked.
The finding highlighted the need for innovation in public programs and communication initiatives, she said.
‘While 48 per cent of parents rated obesity as a big problem for all children, only eight per cent rated it as a big problem for their own children.
‘The implications of this are significant when one in four Australian children are overweight.
‘If parents aren’t recognising obesity as a problem in their own homes it might prove difficult to address the causes of childhood obesity.’
TOP 10 CHILD HEALTH PROBLEMS
1. excessive screen time 58 per cent
2. obesity 55 per cent
3. not enough physical activity 54 per cent
4. unhealthy diet 54 per cent
5. bullying 53 per cent
6. illegal drug use 50 per cent
7. family and domestic violence 49 cent
8. internet safety 45 per cent
9. child abuse and neglect 45 per cent
10. suicide 41 per cent