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UNLV report: 1/3 of Nevada kindergartners overweight

Nearly one-third of the state’s kindergarteners are overweight or obese, which could lead to more physical and academic obstacles in their future, according to researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

A report compiled by UNLV’s Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy found 30 percent of the children in the 2013-2014 study were overweight. That’s a 1.4 percent increase from last school year.

“It’s such an unhealthy condition for kids because once you have this overweight or obesity, it carries into adulthood,” Virginia Beck, a registered dietitian with the Clark County School District, told KSNV-TV. “It’s very difficult to ever reduce after you’ve reached a certain age.”

The report, which is based on more than 7,300 surveys completed by parents in all of the state’s 17 school districts, doesn’t explain why the obesity rate ticked up, although it did note that children are spending more time with video games and computers.

But the survey also found healthier behaviors in other areas. The number of children watching more than three hours of TV each school day is down slightly to 19.4 percent, and the number of children who get less than 30 minutes of exercise three times a week ticked down to 17.6 percent.

Researchers said they hope the report helps inform state policies related to childhood obesity.

“This issue is starting early. Children are not necessarily becoming suddenly obese when they get to high school,” Amanda Haboush-Deloye, a study author, told the Las Vegas Sun. “The earlier we can start promoting a healthy lifestyle, the better outcomes we’re going to have.”

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