Variation in Generational Perceptions of Child Health and Well-being

Freed, G. L.; Davis, M. M.; Singer, D. C.; Gebremariam, A.; Schultz, S. L.; Matos-Moreno, A.; Wietecha, M.

Acad Pediatr. 2017 Sep 19


OBJECTIVE: To assess adults' perceptions regarding the health and well-being of children today relative to their own health and well-being as youth and the potential for intergenerational differences in those perceptions. METHODS: A cross-sectional, internet-based survey of a nationally representative household sample. The study was conducted using GfK Custom Research's web-enabled KnowledgePanel(R), a probability-based panel representative of the U.S. POPULATION: We assessed perceptions of children's health and well-being today compared to when respondents were growing up including (1) physical and mental health and (2) children's education, exercise, diet, health care, safety of communities and emotional support from families, groups and organizations. RESULTS: Overall, 1330 (65%; 1330/2047) adult respondents completed the survey. Only 26% of respondents believe that the current physical health of children, and 14% that the current mental health of children, is better today than when they were growing up. There was a significant trend among generations with a greater proportion of older generations perceiving the physical health of children to be better today. Only 15% of respondents report the chances for a child to grow up with good mental health in the future are "better" now than when they were growing up. CONCLUSIONS: Adults across all generations in the U.S. today view children's health as unlikely to meet the goals of the American Dream of continuous improvement. Although demographic changes require continued focus on our aging population, we must equally recognize the importance of advancing a healthy future for our nation's children, who will assume the mantle of our future.

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