Most Georgians consider obesity and child abuse as the top two issues plaguing children in this state, a survey from the Georgia Children’s Health Alliance said.
But their perception is actually far apart from the state’s major concerns of low birth weight and infant mortality, physicians said.
The state ranks near the bottom for premature births and the number of babies who die before their first birthday. Georgia is also near the bottom – 44th - in the nation for low birth weigh, according to the health alliance, using figures from the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation. Despite those figures, “awareness of the problem lags substantially in the population at large, pointing to a need for greater education,” said Seema Csukas, the health alliance’s medical director.
The alliance is a public-private partnership. The group interviewed approximately 1,110 Georgia residents 18 and older for this survey.
Childhood obesity remains a top health issue for the state. More than one in three children ages 10 to 17 is considered to be overweight or obese, said Csukas, who also is the medical director for Child Health Promotion at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
But when it comes to solving that problem, those who were surveyed said it’s the parents’ responsibility, not the schools’ or the government’s.
“Most feel that these health issues are not serious within their own community compared with the rest of Georgia,” Csukas said.
Those who participated in the survey said they thought children eat too much fast food and watch too much television. On the flip side, the alliance said there are other factors as well, such as less time for physical education and recess at schools.
“Though many parents are working hard to improve the health of their own children, no single group has the ability to drive significant, meaningful change for Georgia. Statewide improvement requires a coordinated, systematic effort involving everyone,” Csukas said.
By Kristi E. Swartz
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution