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Comparison Findings of the New Hampshire 2013–2014 Healthy Smiles–Healthy Growth Third Grade Survey Show Dramatic Decrease in Obesity and Tooth Decay
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Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publish Date:
October 21, 2014

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has compared the results of the 2013–2014 Healthy Smiles–Healthy Growth Third Grade Survey with the 2008–2009 survey and finds improvements have been made. The statewide survey was funded by the HNH Foundation and Northeast Delta Dental. The data show a marked improvement over the last five years and demonstrate progress in reducing health disparities in both obesity and oral health status. Data were collected at public elementary schools in each county throughout New Hampshire. The Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services coordinated data collection for the City.

When compared with the 2008–2009 survey DPHS found:

Obesity

  • 30% decrease statewide in obesity prevalence
  • 34.8% decrease in obesity among students in schools that have more than 50% of students eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch
  • 46% reduction in schools that have 25% or less students who qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch
  • 37% decrease in boys

Oral Health

  • 54.4% decrease in untreated decay in Coos County
  • 31.7% decrease in untreated tooth decay statewide
  • 32.5% decrease in children with immediate dental needs
  • 20.4% increase in dental sealants in schools with more than 50% of students who qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch

"The findings support the collaborative efforts that took place across the State beginning in 2008," said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. "We are very excited to see large improvements in obesity and dental sealants in schools that have high eligibility for Free or Reduced Lunch and a decrease in untreated tooth decay in Coos County. In order to sustain these improvements and further reduce health disparities, businesses, private foundations, community organizations, and government are working together to target resources and strategies. This will have a collective impact and improve the health of the people in New Hampshire. This is exciting progress and is the result of efforts by many partners from parents to schools to dental health professionals, nutrition and physical activity advocates, all designed to target efforts in areas where worse health outcomes exist."

Beginning in 2008, DPHS was awarded a five-year $2.2 million CDC grant to establish an Obesity Prevention Program (OPP). OPP supported Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) NH by providing assistance and resources to schools, worksites, and communities. Additionally OPP focused efforts in child care settings training over 300 child care providers to improve nutrition and physical activity in their programs. Other key partners included HEAL NH, the Foundation for Healthy Communities, the NH Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School Program, NH Regional Planning Commissions, and the NH Child Development Bureau.

The Oral Health Program in the Division of Public Health Services has worked with many external partners to target interventions in areas with oral health disparities found in the 2008–2009 survey. The 54.4% decrease in untreated decay in Coos County and the 20.4% increase in dental sealants in schools with more than 50% of students who qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch demonstrate that targeted efforts can result in significant improvements.

The HNH Foundation and Northeast Delta Dental Foundation provided funding for data collection, while the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors contributed technical assistance for the sampling and data analysis of the Third Grade Survey. The purpose of the survey was to gather representative data on oral health and height/weight status for third grade students statewide.

The complete New Hampshire 2013–2014 Healthy Smiles–Healthy Growth Third Grade Survey Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol is available on the DHHS website.

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