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Adults say today's children have worse health than in past generations

Adults say today's children have worse health than in past generations

4/19/2016

More than half of adults believe children today are more stressed, experience less quality family time and have worse mental and emotional health than children in past generations, according to a C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Among the key results, 55 percent of adults polled believe kids' mental and emotional health is worse today than when they were children. Coping and personal friendships for children were also widely viewed as worse than for children in the past.

“We found that adults in the U.S. broadly agree: children's health today seems worse than for children over the past several decades," said Dr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the poll and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

In addition to the perception of diminished emotional and mental health, the poll found adults perceive children as having worse physical health as well. Forty-two percent of adults say kids today are in worse physical health compared to their own childhoods.

The poll also found generational differences in adults' perceptions of children's health: Pre-baby boomers ages 70 and older were most likely to perceive that children's physical health today is better than when they were growing up. Baby boomers (ages 51-69), generation Xers (ages 35-50) and millennials in the 18-34 age group were less likely to perceive that children's physical health is better now.

The poll of nearly 2,700 adults in a nationally representative sample asked respondents to assess key variables for children growing up today, compared to those in prior decades.

The findings linked to behavioral health are consistent with previous Mott polls that cited bullying, stress, suicide, and depression as leading child health concerns identified by adults across the U.S.

Study Health Bullying Stress

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