Every year, the Nevada Institute for Children's Research and Policy (NICRP) conducts surveys focusing on the health of Nevada kindergartners.
The health of kindergartners is a bell weather measurement for the health of kids in general, and can give public health advocates some direction on how to address the issues of kids’ health.
NICRP's chief researcher Amanda Haboush-Deloye told KNPR's State of Nevada that 5 is a vital age for children.
"Five is a very important developmental period," she explained. "That early childhood period is absolutely crucial to get the appropriate nutrients. The appropriate exposure to stimulate brain development and brain growth."
The good news is that kindergartners are drinking less soda. The bad news is they’re not moving as much, and their obesity rates are slightly higher.
"Obesity is such a complex issue," Haboush-Deloye said. "It's combined by the food that the children are eating. It's combined with their physical activity. The amount that they are consuming versus the amount that they are expending."
The more significant good news/bad news is that more 5-year-olds than ever are insured in Nevada. But 33 percent of kindergartners in this state live in poverty.
The poverty rate can impact a child's over all health.
"Obesity hits all incomes, but its definitely you start to see a rise the lower incomes," Haboush-Deloye said.
Parents in poverty must choose inexpensive food to make sure their children have something to eat but it can have the least amount of nutritious value.
The study also found there is an increasing number of children who are under weight, which is also related to poverty.
Haboush-Deloye said they'll take the findings from their study to lawmakers in an effort to educate them on the issues facing Nevada kids.
"So that way they have a better understanding of what our state looks like and what our kids need and the importance of making those investments early on," she said.
She also encourages parents to speak up about they want, because policy makers will listen.
Amanda Haboush-Deloye, chief research associate, NICRP
You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.