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One-Third of Nev. Kindergartners Are Overweight, Study Finds

Roughly 13 percent of Nevada kindergartners are overweight, with another 21 percent considered "obese," according to a new statewide studyRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

The report, from UNLV's Nevada Institute for Children's Research and Policy, culls from more than 10,000 surveys that had been administered to parents and school districts to judge the overall health status of children in the state when they enter kindergarten.

The report asked parents how often their child was physically active for at least 30 minutes in a given week, and the findings likely won't surprise you. The more a kindergartner was physically active, the higher his/her chance of maintaining a healthy weight. (For the purposes of the study, a "healthy weight" was determined to be a BMI from the 5th percentile to the 85th percentile, based on the CDC's Body Mass for Age Table.)

Only 35 percent of children who exercised 0-1 times/week were considered at a "healthy weight," while 30 percent of children were considered obese. In a stark contrast, 52.1 percent of those kindergartners who engaged in physical activity nearly every day (6-7 times/week) were considered healthy, with only 19.2 percent considered obese.

What could be considered surprising: 15.4 percent of the state's kindergartners were considered underweight (BMI less than the 5th percentile).

This year's survey was the third of a three-year series, and much of the data show a positive trend for Nevada's kindergartners. The percentage of underweight children dropped from 16.8 percent in 2008-09 to 15.4 percent this past year; children at a healthy weight rose from 47.5 percent in 2008-09 to 50.3 percent this past year; and the percentage of obese children fell from 24.9 percent in 2008-09 to 21.1 percent this year.

That said, the one troubling statistic came in the three-year trend of overweight kindergartners. After having only 10.8 percent of children reported as overweight in 2008-09, that number increased to 13.2 percent this past year.

A total of 10,487 surveys were received, but only 3,893 of them included data about both height and weight. Some of the respondents' children's height was outside the 95 percent interval of average height of 4-7 year olds, dropping the total number of "valid BMI" cases to 3,608 (34.4 percent of the total sample).

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