Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade

Friday, February 28th, 2014 | Author: Eric

From the New York Times:

Federal health authorities on Tuesday reported a 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade, the first broad decline in an epidemic that often leads to lifelong struggles with weight and higher risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.

The drop emerged from a major federal health survey…Read the full article at nytimes.com

Learn more about Shape NC

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Obesity Is Found to Gain Its Hold in Earliest Years By Gina Kolata, New York Times

Thursday, January 30th, 2014 | Author: Eric

A third of children who are overweight in kindergarten are obese by eighth grade, a study says. Tim Boyle/Getty Images

For many obese adults, the die was cast by the time they were 5 years old. A major new study of more than 7,000 children has found that a third of children who were overweight in kindergarten were obese by eighth grade. And almost every child who was very obese remained that way.

Some obese or overweight kindergartners lost their excess weight, and some children of normal weight got fat over the years. But every year, the chances that a child would slide into or out of being overweight or obese diminished. By age 11, there were few additional changes: Those who were obese or overweight stayed that way, and those whose weight was normal did not become fat.

“The main message is that obesity is established very early in life, and that it basically tracks through adolescence to adulthood,” said Ruth Loos, a professor of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who was not involved in the study.

These results, surprising to many experts, arose from a rare study that tracked children’s body weight for years, from kindergarten through eighth grade. Experts say they may reshape approaches to combating the nation’s obesity epidemic, suggesting that efforts must start much earlier and focus more on the children at greatest risk.

Read the rest of the article…

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Press Release – Expert Taskforce Releases Recommendations for Obesity Prevention for State’s Youngest Children

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 | Author: Eric

Contact: Heather Strickland – hstrickland@smartstart.org, 919-821-9564

Expert Taskforce Releases Recommendations for Obesity Prevention for State’s Youngest Children
Shape NC Highlighted as Key Part of Strategy to Create Healthier NC

RALEIGH, NC — A taskforce comprised of child care and health experts from foundations, government agencies, universities, health professional associations, and community groups released recommendations today to address the problem of rising obesity rates and health care costs by targeting the issue at its roots – the state’s youngest children birth to five.

The North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) Task Force on Early Childhood Obesity Prevention (ECOP) recommended a strategy that works across fields and sectors. This cooperation ensures that similar messages, assessments and policies impact parents and children when and where they can be reached. From the pediatrician’s office to the child care center, this approach can ensure a healthier start to the state’s youngest residents.

“As a key partner in Shape NC, I am proud of the work The North Carolina Partnership for Children has done to increase knowledge of nutrition and the importance of physical activity among children, their families and teachers,” said Nancy Brown, Board Chair of NCPC. “These recommendations highlight how this work can be expanded to be part of a larger, systematic effort that can improve the health of children and our state.”

Shape NC, a partnership between the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation and NCPC, is a $3 million initiative that addresses childhood obesity by focusing on the child care setting and community.

The recommendations identified programs, including Shape NC, which taskforce members believe are both important and practical to support because of the progress already made in improving health and wellness in pilot child care centers. The report states, “There has already been considerable effort to implement evidence-based and evidence-informed physical activity and nutrition strategies in child care programs through existing programs like Shape NC, Nutrition and Physical Activity Self Assessment in Child Care, Preventing Obesity by Design, and Be Active Kids.”

The taskforce recommendations also include: improving the treatment and prevention of early childhood obesity in health care settings; integrating healthy activities into child care settings; utilizing community resources to reduce childhood obesity; and expanding the collection and reporting of physical activity and nutrition data. The NCIOM taskforce was convened at the request of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC Foundation) and was a collaborative effort between the BCBSNC Foundation, the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC), and the NCIOM. For additional information about the importance of obesity prevention and to read the full recommendations, please visit http://www.nciom.org/publications/?childhoodobesityprevention.


Smart Start, a network of nonprofit local partnerships led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), creates innovative solutions to measurably increase learning and the healthy development of children birth to five. Smart Start gives local communities the freedom and responsibility to determine how to increase the health, well-being and development of their children based on the needs and resources of their local communities. NCPC establishes measurable statewide goals and communities determine the best approach to achieving them. For more information, visit www.smartstart.org.


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Nurse Family Partnership in North Carolina

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 | Author: Tracy

Each year in North Carolina, 21,000 children are born to first-time, low-income mothers who are at the greatest risk of suffering health, education and economic disparities – disparities that perpetuate a vicious cycle of poverty. No matter how a new mother arrives at this situation, there’s no doubt the quality of her life – and her baby’s – depends on crucial choices in the next few years.

NFP is a nationally recognized, evidence-based nurse home visitation program for first-time, low-income mothers. Through ongoing consultations in the mother’s home, registered nurses work to:

  • Improve pregnancy outcomes
  • Improve child health and development
  • Increase the economic self-sufficiency of the family

The program lasts from pregnancy until the child turns 2.

In North Carolina, Nurse-Family Partnership has served 2,397 mothers, welcomed 1,573 babies and conducted 47,426 home visits in part through our support. But our work is far from done. Take a look at some of the challenges NC faces and help spread the word: Investing in Healthier Families: Nurse-Family Partnership, A Promise for North Carolina’s Future.

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Free! Improving Young Child Mental Health in North Carolina

Monday, February 18th, 2013 | Author: Eric

In 2010, the North Carolina General Assembly asked the NC Institute of Medicine to convene a task force to study the adequacy of the current systems serving the mental health, social and emotional needs of young children and their families. The charge included a systematic evaluation of the needs, gaps, strengths and resources of the public and private systems providing prevention, promotion and treatment for young children’s mental health and social emotional well-being.

Join us for interactive regional workshops across the state to learn about the findings of the NC Institute of Medicine Task Force’s study.

  • Gain valuable information about the importance of young child social and emotional development and how you can help to spread the word in your own communities.
  • Learn from and share with others across your region about local initiatives to improve young child mental health.

We encourage you to come as a team or to bring along at least one other colleague with whom you can learn, dream and plan during the day.

Find your place in the inspiring world of young child social and emotional development and develop strategies for improving services to young children in your community and beyond!

Target Audience

  • All professionals working with infants/young children and their parents including professionals in the fields of health, early education, child welfare and child development
  • Parents
  • Community and civic leaders interested in understanding the benefits of investing in young child mental health in NC


  • Registration is FREE Due to funding from the North Carolina Early Childhood Advisory Council
  • Registration deadline is three (3) business days prior to each workshop.
  • Registration includes lunch, refreshments and handouts.

Please register using the website for your chosen location:

March 11, 2013   Greensboro       www.gahec.org
March 20, 2013   Raleigh             www.wakeahec.org
March 27, 2013   Wilmington       www.seahec.net
April 3, 2013       Asheville          www.mahec.net
April 10, 2013     Rocky Mount     www.arealahec.org
April 25, 2013     Winston-Salem  www.wakehealth.edu/northwest-ahec
May 7, 2013        Greenville         www.eahec.ecu.edu
May 13, 2013      Fayetteville       www.southernregionalahec.org
May 17, 2013      Charlotte           www.charlotteahec.org

Program Dates and Locations

Registration: 9:30 am
Program: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

March 11, 2013
Moses Cone Hospital
Room 0030
1200 Elm Street
Greensboro, NC

March 20, 2013
Methodist Home for Children
1041 Washington Street
Raleigh NC

March 27, 2013
Southeast AHEC
2511 Delaney Avenue
Wilmington, NC

April 3, 2013
Mountain AHEC
121 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC

April 10, 2013
1631 South Wesleyan Boulevard
Rocky Mount, NC

April 25, 2013
Northwest AHEC
Deacon Tower at BB&T Field
475 Deacon Boulevard
Winston-Salem, NC

May 7, 2013
City Hotel & Bistro
203 SW Greenville Boulevard
Greenville, NC

May 13, 2013
Southern Regional AHEC
1601 Owen Drive
Fayetteville, NC

May 17, 2013
Covenant Presbyterian Church
1000 East Morehead Street
Charlotte, NC





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Free Training: Healthy Starts in Early Childhood Care and Education Training Series

Thursday, January 17th, 2013 | Author: Tracy

Shape NC: Healthy Starts for Young Children has an on-line webinar series for early childhood professionals interested in learning or enhancing knowledge, skills and confidence in creating learning environments that promote healthy practices for young children. In addition, the series is designed to support participants in improving their health and reaching personal wellness goals.

The series content was developed by experts in the field from NCSU’s Natural Learning InitiativeUNC-CH’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and Be Active Kids. Series modules include:

  • Obesity Overview
  • Physical Activity and Play
  • Nutrition and Healthy Eating
  • Outdoor Learning Environments
  • Personal Wellness

Participants completing the  series will receive 1.0 continuing education unit (CEU) from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. The CEU also meets the requirements for 10 contact hours with the Division of Child Development and Early Education.

Download the flier for Registration Information and additional details.

The course and CEUs are free to participants but space is limited!

For questions, please contact me at Phansen@ncsmartstart.org or the NC Institute for Child Development at info@ncicdp.org.



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“2012 Child Health Report Card” Shows Progress, Continued Challenges in Child Health

Monday, November 26th, 2012 | Author: Eric

Report highlights the influence of social factors on health outcomes

(Raleigh, NC)–North Carolina’s future prosperity is shaped by children’s health status, as well as where they live, learn, and grow, according to a new report by Action for Children North Carolina and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine.

“Good health forms a foundation for future academic, economic and social success,” said Deborah Bryan, President & CEO of Action for Children North Carolina. “When children grow up healthy, safe and connected to resources that enable them to thrive, they are more likely to find gainful employment, have stable families, and be active and productive members of their communities.”

Many chronic, costly, health challenges North Carolina will face in the future have their roots in the early years of life. These include conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mental health problems. Reducing the incidence and prevalence of these conditions, or lessening their effects, could have large payoffs for the state’s future health costs in addition to improving health. “Increasing access to health care and decreasing adverse childhood experiences are two of the key ingredients in improving child health. Improvements in child health will impact educational success, graduation rates, and adult health,” said Adam Zolotor, MD, Vice President of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine.

In addition to addressing traditional health outcomes, the 18th annual North Carolina Child Health Report Card explores the relationship between social determinants of health–variations in living circumstances such as income, access to health care, educational achievement, neighborhood quality, and environment–and children’s health outcomes. Research shows that social determinants of health, although important for all age groups, are especially influential for children because they shape early child development and affect future opportunities for health throughout the life span.

The report shows important progress in efforts to address some of these fundamental factors that shape child health, despite continued challenges. Last year, North Carolina’s graduation rate reached 80%, a significant improvement from five years ago. However, child poverty in North Carolina increased to 25.6 percent, up from 20.2% in 2006. Among children most susceptible to the negative effects of poverty–children under age five–the poverty rate was even higher at 30.3 percent.

The relationships between high school graduation, household income, and health have been well documented. Graduating from high school improves individuals’ quality of health, reduces rates of alcohol and drug abuse and has been associated with longer life spans. The experience of poverty, on the other hand, is associated with poorer health outcomes including poor nutrition, obesity, and higher mortality rates.

Other highlights from the 2012 North Carolina Child Health Report Card include:

  • Medicaid and North Carolina Health Choice continued to preserve children’s access to health insurance coverage despite persistent, high poverty and unemployment rates in the state. Together, the programs provide coverage to one in every two children in North Carolina (1.1 million) under age 18.
  • The percentage of infants in North Carolina born weighing less than 5 lbs., 5 oz. (9.1 percent) remained unchanged between 2006 and 2011. Low birth weight births in North Carolina are most often due to prematurity, and they can carry significant long-term developmental consequences for children including: higher rates of brain injury, developmental delay, chronic lung disease, and eye disease.
  • The percentage of children who report using prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription increased from 17 percent in 2007 to 24 percent in 2011. Poising is the fastest growing cause of child death in North Carolina, and is due largely to the misuse of prescription drugs.

Advocates say addressing the social determinants of health is not the sole responsibility of the health sector. “Across the state we are seeing exciting new partnerships emerge between the public sector and nonprofits to address the fundamental factors that shape our children’s health,” said Bryan. “We hope that the North Carolina General Assembly will prioritize evidence-based programs and policies that promote economically secure families and high-quality education as part of a comprehensive approach to improving children’s health and well-being in North Carolina.”

About the Report Card

For 18 years, the North Carolina Child Health Report Card has tracked the health and well-being of children and youth in our state. The report card compiles more than 40 indicators of child health and safety into one easy-to-read document that helps policymakers, health professionals, the media, and concerned citizens monitor children’s health outcomes, identify emerging trends, and plan future investments. The report card presents data for the most current year available, usually 2011, and a comparison year, or benchmark, usually 2006.

Download a copy of the 2012 North Carolina Child Health Report Card.

The report card is available online at www.ncchild.org.

[View the press online release]

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North Carolina Child Death Rate Remains at Lowest Level in History

Monday, November 12th, 2012 | Author: Tracy

RALEIGH – Data released today by NC Child Fatality Task Force show that child death rates in North Carolina ticked downward slightly in 2011 to the lowest rate yet recorded. The child death rate has been cut almost in half over the past two decades.

“Growing the prosperity of our state depends on assuring that our next generation grows up healthy, safe and strong. Maintaining the lowest child death rate on record shows the value of focused public policies and sustained and strategic investments for improving outcomes for our children. Knitting together a variety of evidence-informed policies has effects across the spectrum to prevent child death and promote well-being,” noted Elizabeth Hudgins, Child Fatality Task Force Executive Director.

Official figures gathered by the State Center for Health Statistics and the Child Fatality Prevention Team Research Staff show a rate of 57.4 deaths per 100,000 children from birth through 17 years of age, compared to 57.5 deaths per 100,000 children in 2010 and 67.0 deaths per 100,000 children in 2009. When North Carolina developed the Child Fatality Prevention System in 1990, the rate exceeded 100 deaths per 100,000 children. In total, about 10,400 child deaths have been prevented– about the equivalent of averting 8 years of child death – than if the 1991 child death rate had prevailed.

“Prevention is prevention is prevention,” commented Karen McLeod, Task Force Co-chair and Benchmarks President/CEO. “Each child death is just the tip of the iceberg, representing hundreds if not thousands of injuries or other undesirable results.  The same strategies that reduce child death help prevent poor birth outcomes, broken bones, and violence against and by children.”

Highlights of the 2011 data include:

  • The 2011 death rate of 57.4 deaths per 100,000 children is the lowest recorded rate. It represents a decline of 46% since 1991 (the inception of the Child Fatality Prevention System).
  • Poisoning is the fastest growing cause of child death. The majority of these deaths are to older adolescents, aged 15-17. The increase is due mainly to misuse of prescription drugs and consistent with national trends.  In the 1990s, it was unusual to record more than 3 teen poisoning deaths a year. Now, fewer than 10 in one year is unusual. Efforts such as Operation Medicine Drop, effective use of the Controlled Substance Reporting System, and other policy initiatives can help reduce misuse of prescription drugs.
  • While the infant mortality rate remains near its historic low in 2010, infants under age 1 comprise about two-thirds of all child deaths. Birth defects were also the cause of 7% of deaths to children over age 1 in 2011.
  • Illness is a major cause of death, accounting for 19% of child deaths in 2011. Illness is the leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 14.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury death for children.
  • The number of drowning deaths which had been unusually high in 2010 declined to more typical levels in 2011. This is on the heels of increased water safety efforts by Safe Kids NC and others.

“In the days following elections, it’s helpful to reflect on what is at stake with public policy. Fortunately for NC children and families, public policies save lives when well implemented. It’s a credit to the work of our Governors, General Assembly and partners across the decades,” concluded Dr. Peter Morris, co-chair of the Child Fatality Task Force and Wake County Human Services Medical Director. “It takes healthy, strong communities to grow healthy children. As members of the Task Force, we all know that a range of strategies and on-going commitment work together to assure the well-being of our next generation.”

Population data from 2010 and beyond rely on National Center for Health Statistics Bridged estimates. Due to these changes which affect the dominator, caution should be taken in comparing to rates prior to 2010. The number of child deaths for each county by cause and age are also available. Because the numbers for each county are relatively small, rates are not computed and all data should be used and interpreted with caution. State and county data can be found online at http://www.epi.state.nc.us/SCHS/ .


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After Record Decline, N.C. Infant Mortality Rate Experiences Slight Increase

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 | Author: Tracy

(Action for Children) Data released by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services yesterday show, after reaching the lowest recorded rate in state history, North Carolina’s infant mortality rate experienced an uptick in 2011, increasing from 7.0 to 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The infant mortality rate is often used as a measure of the overall health of a population.  Infant mortality reflects several factors ranging from maternal health, public health practices, and socioeconomic conditions, to the ability of infants and pregnant women to access appropriate health care.

“Historically, North Carolina’s infant mortality rate has been among the highest in the nation,” said Laila A. Bell, director of research and data at Action for Children North Carolina. “Lowering our state’s infant mortality rate should be seen as a critical part of our efforts to improve public health in North Carolina.”

Recent declines in North Carolina’s overall infant mortality rate conceal disturbing trends. African American babies remain more than twice as likely to die before reaching their first birthday than White babies–a pattern that has remained consistent throughout recent years. Although Hispanic babies typically experience better birth outcomes than their non-Hispanic peers, the Hispanic infant mortality rate increased 8 percent last year to 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. Advocates say these disparities require the state’s immediate attention.

In addition to lingering racial inequities, the data also show persistent geographic disparities in infant deaths. Babies born in eastern North Carolina are more likely to die before their first birthday than those born in other parts of the state. In 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly cut funding to the maternity clinic that provides care to women experiencing high risk pregnancies in 29 eastern North Carolina counties. While this funding was eventually restored during the 2012 “short” legislative session, advocates say these new data underscore the importance of continued investments in interventions that support underserved communities.

“An increasingly sophisticated body of research shows that when it comes to health outcomes, place matters,” said Bell. “The conditions in which our expectant mothers and children live–the economic security of their families, the quality of their neighborhoods and schools, and their access to nutritious foods–all impact the health of our children.”

“It is not enough to simply address the symptoms of poor health,” said Bell, “we must also identify the complex root causes of health disparities and find ways to correct them.”

Interventions that work to address the environmental, social and behavioral determinants of health can create significant gains for the state. Evidence-based supports like the Nurse Family Partnership and community-based outreach programs offer an integrated approach to wellness that helps expectant mothers address multiple areas of need in their lives.

Advocates call on members of the General Assembly to recommit to preserving important progress that has been made in efforts to reduce infant mortality.  Cuts to tobacco prevention and cessation programs, coupled with the elimination of state funding to outreach programs like those offered by the N.C. Healthy Start Foundation, place gains at risk.

The following graph is provided for use by the media. To download a copy of this graph visit: http://www.ncchild.org/press-release/after-record-decline-nc-infant-mortality-rate-experiences-slight-increase

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Outdoor Learning Improves Health of NC Children

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 | Author: Tracy

ASHEBORO, N.C. – Thousands of children across North Carolina are learning to play in the dirt again. It’s part of a statewide effort to increase the health and nutrition education for children and their families called Shape NC. In Randolph County alone, 4,000 children benefit from the program, which provides outdoor classrooms and specialized education.

Pauline McKee is executive director of the Randolph County Partnership for Children.

“The outdoor learning environments are really critical. The classroom has now moved to the outdoors, so it’s serving an educational purpose as well as increasing physical activity.”

After peaking in 2005, the number of overweight children in Randolph County is on the decline, McKee says, which she attributes to Smart Start and Shape NC programs. Shape NC is made possible through a partnership with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC) and the North Carolina Partnership for Children.

In addition to funding provided by BCBSNC, Shape NC programs are assisted by community partners like Kelly Contractors, Asheboro. Owner Mac Kelly says his company contributes to the outdoor playgrounds for very personal reasons.

“I’ve got two young kids myself, and we grew up on a farm – my family did. We’re seeing that a lot of kids are lacking some of the natural-type atmosphere.”

The outdoor playgrounds incorporate natural features and are constructed with the help of volunteers and donations.

Listen to the story.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service – NC
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