NH DHHS - Releases Childhood Obesity Report

Concord, NH – The NH Obesity Prevention Program (OPP) in the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) will be working hard in the New Year to help New Hampshire children achieve and maintain a healthy weight. In recognition of Healthy Weight Week, January 16-22, 2011, the OPP released Childhood Obesity in New Hampshire 2008-2009.

The four-page report describes key findings of the New Hampshire Third Grade Healthy Smiles – Healthy Growth Survey, which found that one in three New Hampshire third graders are overweight or obese. It also gives New Hampshire leaders examples of policies and environmental changes that can help reduce children’s risk of obesity.

Carrying excess weight in childhood predicts obesity later in life; 80 percent of children who were overweight at any time during the elementary period were overweight at 12 years of age. Diseases seen in overweight and obese children include hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, glucose intolerance, sleep-associated breathing disorders, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

“Changing the environment where children live and learn plays a significant role in helping children achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout their lives,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of DPHS. Many settings can support children and their families in working toward that goal – child care, schools, worksites, health care organizations, cities and towns, grocery stores, small food stores, and concession stands.”

For example, child care policies can assure adequate daily physical activity for children of all ages and limit the use of television and other screen time; schools and child care settings can require fruits and vegetables at all meals and snacks; schools can allow the use of playgrounds and community gardens by the public during non-school hours; worksites can allow breastfeeding women sufficient break time and private non-bathroom space to pump and a place to store breastmilk; cities and towns can promote healthy active transportation and improve access to affordable fruits and vegetables through community gardens and farmers’ markets.

To learn more, contact the Obesity Prevention Program at 603-271-4551.To read the report, go to http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/obesity.htm.