LAS VEGAS -- May 16, 2013 -- Nevada's kindergartners are adopting healthier habits, according to a report issued by the Nevada Institute for Children's Research and Policy (NICRP) at UNLV. The NICRP found that while 29.6 percent of Nevada kindergarteners are overweight or obese, the numbers are dropping. That is a 3.9 percent decrease since last year and a 7.8 percent decrease in the last five years.
Nevada children entering kindergarten also are watching less television and , drinking less soda than last year, according to the report.
But more families are uninsured compared to last year, more children do not have a primary care provider, and more families are reporting barriers to accessing health care. Parents cited lack of money and lack of insurance as the most common obstacles.
"While we are seeing some areas of improvement, like a decrease in kindergarteners starting school overweight or obese, parents continue to experience barriers to accessing healthcare for their children," said Tara Phebus, interim executive director of the NICRP. "Progress has been made, but we still can take many steps to boost the health of our state's youngest citizens."
The NICRP administers the Kindergarten Health Survey to parents in all Nevada school districts each year to assess the overall health status of children starting school. More than 8,400 surveys were collected.
The fifth annual survey gathered information on insurance status, frequency of routine health care, access to health care, weight status, and health-related behaviors such as exercising, drinking soda, watching TV, and playing video games.
For the first time this year, respondents were asked if their child was breastfed at one month, three months and six months of age. Results indicate that 47.3 percent of children were breastfed exclusively at one month, and 45.2 percent were breastfed nonexclusively at six months. Breastfeeding has been shown to have many health benefits for the child such as a reduced risk of allergies, obesity, and diabetes.
Additional findings include:
15.4 percent of kids are underweight; 29.6 percent are either overweight or obese
80 percent watched two hours or less of television each day
89.1 percent watch or play equal to or less than one hour of computer or video games per school day
33.7 percent come from a family where the household income is less than $25,000 per year, an increase of 4 percent
29.8 percent had public health insurance, such as Medicaid or Nevada Check-Up.
13.5 percent were uninsured, a 9.6 percent increase in uninsured from last year
86.1 percent had at least one routine check-up within the past 12 months
83.2 percent had a primary care provider, a 1 percent decline from last year
74.6 percent had received routine dental care in the past year, a 2 percent increase since last year
The Nevada Kindergarten Health Survey is a partnership between UNLV, the Nevada State Health Division, Southern Nevada Health District and 17 Nevada school districts. The survey identifies health trends that can be used by educators and by state officials to guide policy and program development.
The UNLV research team included Amanda Haboush, Tara Phebus, Dawn Davidson, Enrique Lopez, and Chad Pitts. Representatives from all Nevada school districts, the Nevada State Health Divisions, and Head Start Collaboration and Early Childhood Systems Office also participated in the project.