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UNLV Report Details Health of Nevada's Kindergarteners

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Annual survey of entering Nevada kindergarteners reveals 30 percent are overweight or obese and nearly 13 percent do not have health insurance.
Research  |  Jun 9, 2014  |  By Megan Downs
Media Contact: Megan Downs (702) 895-0898

Students at Cunningham Elementary School (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Nevada children entering kindergarten are participating in more physical activity, watching less television, and drinking less soda than last year, according to an annual report issued by the Nevada Institute for Children's Research and Policy (NICRP) at UNLV.

However, the report also found many areas that need improvement. Four and five-year-olds are spending more time playing on computers and video games and consuming more diet soda, according to the report. As a result, maintaining a healthy weight remains an issue for Nevada kindergartners with 30 percent identified as overweight or obese - a 1.4 percent increase from last year.

"Nevadans are making many improvements and working to create healthy habits for our youngest residents," said Amanda Haboush-Deloye, senior research associate for NICRP. "However, it's clear that statewide we need to step up prevention efforts to help children and families have access to healthier foods and safe options to increase physical activity."

NICRP administers the Kindergarten Health Survey to parents of incoming kindergarteners each year in all Nevada school districts to assess the overall health status of children starting school. The sixth 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.

Fewer families are uninsured compared to last year and more children have a primary care provider; however, not as many children received a routine check-up in the past year and about 25 percent of families are still reporting barriers to accessing healthcare. Lack of money and insurance were the most commonly reported barriers by parents.

More than 7,300 surveys were collected. Two new questions were added to the survey this year. Respondents were asked if their child had a development screening in the past 12 months (46.2 percent said no) and if they knew how to access support services for their families (16.4 percent indicated that they did not know how to access services and 38.3 percent indicated that they were unsure).

Additional findings include:

  • 35.6 percent of children did not attend preschool the year before entering kindergarten
  • 25.7 percent of children spend 20 hours or more in preschool settings per week
  • 64.4 percent of families have an annual household income less than $35,000
  • 14.5 percent of kids are underweight; 10.4 percent are overweight, and 19.6 percent are obese
  • 56.2 percent did at least 30 minutes of physical activity six or more times per week
  • 80.5 percent watched two hours or less of television each day
  • 47.4 percent reported that their child was exclusively breast feed at one months,34 percent at three months and 23.7 percent at six months.

    The Nevada Kindergarten Health Survey is a partnership between the NICRP, the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, and the 17 Nevada school districts. The survey identifies health trends that can be used by educators and state officials to guide policy and program development.

To access the full report, contact the NICRP at (702) 895-1040 or visit NICRP's website

The UNLV research team included Amanda Haboush-Deloye, Tara Phebus, and Dawn Davidson.