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Fewer Nevada kindergartners are overweight

Michelle Rindels
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Nevada kindergartners are less likely to fritter away long periods of time in front of a TV than in past years, and fewer of them are overweight or obese, according to a new report from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The report issued Thursday by the university’s Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy found 30 percent of the state’s kindergartners are overweight or obese. That’s a four percent drop from last year and an eight percent drop over the past five years.

“While we are seeing some areas of improvement, like a decrease in kindergartners starting school overweight or obese, we also continue to see parents reporting that they experience barriers to accessing health care for their children,” said Tara Phebus, interim executive director of the institute. “Progress has been made, but we still can take many steps to boost the health of our state’s youngest citizens.”

The survey found 13.5 percent of the children don’t have health insurance, and more families say financial problems are an obstacle for them accessing care. That finding comes as more families reported slipping into lower income brackets with less than $45,000 annual household income.

More than 8,400 families from around the state filled out questionnaires as part of the fifth annual Kindergarten Health Survey. Researchers asked about a child’s insurance status, access to health care and eating habits.

Among the other findings: Kindergartners are consuming less soda. About 56 percent of respondents said their kindergartner never drinks non-diet soda.

Eighty percent report their child watches two hours or less of TV per school day, while 20 percent report three hours or more. Those trends reflect this year’s kindergartners are watching less TV than last year’s.