HEAL NH Releases New Obesity Prevention Plan, with funding and support from the HNH Foundation
The 2014-2019 Healthy People Healthy Places Plan is the second statewide action plan released in the past six years to guide healthy eating and active living activities in the Granite State.
New Hampshire’s first-ever obesity prevention plan, the HEAL Action Plan was developed in 2008. During the past six years, over 60 cities and towns – encompassing over 30% of the state’s population – have been targeted by HEAL community partnerships for healthy eating and active living initiatives such as community gardens, safer parks, new bicycle-pedestrian paths, and healthier nutrition standards in schools.
While the “Healthy People Healthy Places Plan” calls for continuing and expanding this successful HEAL community-level work, it also stresses the need for policy change at the state level and a focus on creating equitable access to healthy eating and active living resources for all residents, in both urban and rural communities.
The NH 2013-14 Healthy Smiles - Healthy Growth Third Grade Survey Demonstrates Progress in Statewide Obesity Rates and Oral Health
The NH 2013-14 Healthy Smiles - Healthy Growth Third Grade Survey has been released and the news is good. The statewide report, funded by the HNH Foundation and Northeast Delta Dental, demonstrates progress made in obesity prevention and oral health among third graders across the state. Data show a marked improvement over the last five years since the previous survey was conducted in 2009. For the first time, the current assessment includes all ten counties in New Hampshire and community-level data for the City of Nashua.
This survey was conducted during the 2013-14 school year by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services, with assistance from the Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services. The purpose of the survey was to gather representative data on oral health and height/weight status for third grade students statewide. When compared to the 2008-09 survey, there is a 30% decrease statewide in obesity prevalence, and a 31.7% decrease in untreated tooth decay statewide, along with a 32.5% decrease in children with immediate dental needs:
- 3,971 third grade students in 126 schools were screened
- 12.6% of third grade students in the state were obese
- 15.4% were overweight
- There was not a significant difference in prevalence of obesity by gender
- Among counties, Coos County had the highest prevalence of obesity (21.6%).
- Statewide, 35.4% of New Hampshire third grade students experienced tooth decay
- 8.2% of students had untreated decay
- Only 1% of third grade students required urgent treatment due to pain or swelling
- There were no differences in the prevalence of oral health indicators by gender
- Among counties, Coos (14%) and Strafford (14.2%) counties had the highest prevalence of untreated decay.
According to Dr. Jose Montero, Director, Division of Public Health Services, NH Department of Health & Human Services, “This survey is significant because it gathered uniform data on oral health and height/weight status of third grade students that can guide public health program planning, monitoring, evaluation, and future allocation of resources. The data provide an objective context for establishing ongoing ‘best practices’ in improving the health of our children.”
Patti Baum, Interim President of the HNH Foundation, called the survey results “encouraging. The Foundation has been funding obesity prevention efforts throughout New Hampshire, and preventive and restorative oral health programs in Coos County; we’re pleased to see impact supported by this data.” More recently, the HNH Foundation has extended funding to WIC (Women, Infants and Children) clinics in three locations across the state to not only reach young children but also pregnant women who need access to dental care. The HNH Foundation seeks to reach the state’s most vulnerable children by making grants to support obesity prevention efforts, increasing access to children’s health and dental insurance coverage, and promoting oral health prevention services.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), conducted data collection at public elementary schools in each county throughout New Hampshire. The Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services coordinated access to city-level data for Nashua third grade students. 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 analyses.
For specifics about the report findings and data, please contact Nicola Whitley, Division of Public Health Services, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services at 603-271-4822.
The 2013‐2014 Oral Health and Body Mass Index Assessment of Nashua’s Third Grade Students, is now available. Click here to download the report.
The City of Nashua Third Grade Survey was conducted between September 2013 and March 2014 in conjunction with the New Hampshire Third Grade Healthy Smiles Healthy Growth Survey. The goal was to gather uniform data on oral health and height/weight status of Nashua third grade students that would be comparable to similarly collected data at the state and county levels. All Nashua public schools with a third grade class participated in the survey.
The survey was a collaborative effort between the City of Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services (DPHCS), the Nashua School District, the Greater Nashua Dental Connection and the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services (NH DPHS). The HNH Foundation and Northeast Delta Dental Foundation provided funding support for the survey.
HNH Foundation's Funding Helps Expand Oral Health for Young Children Up to Age 5
(Photo: Mary Parker, Dental Hygienist, examines a young patient at "Tooth Tuesday," Concord WIC Clinic. Photo Courtesy of Oral Health Program, NH Division of Public Health Services)
During 2013-14, funding awards from the HNH Foundation were made to accelerate oral health services for New Hampshire's vulnerable children and families. Specifically, HNH Foundation grant writing technical assistance resulted in a multi-year $1.2 million dollar award to further develop the New Hampshire Oral Health Program. In addition, a pilot project, with co-funding from the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust Fund of the Boston Foundation, was launched to inform the effectiveness of providing oral health prevention services to WIC-eligible children and women. Nancy Martin, Oral Health Program Manager at the NH Division of Public Health Services, calls 2014 the "busiest year yet." Her goals of improving the program's capacity to provide oral health services to underserved populations and continuous quality improvement are being achieved in a variety of ways.
Among the Oral Health Program's current initiatives:
- The second Healthy Smiles/Healthy Growth Survey, funded by the HNH Foundation, assesses changes in the oral health and height/weight status of New Hampshire third graders since the first survey was conducted in 2009
- The update of the New Hampshire Oral Health Plan (OHP) funded by the HNH Foundation, Northeast Delta Dental Foundation, and the Endowment for Health. This planning process, to begin in early fall, will build on the progress being made in oral health in New Hampshire, utilize current and emerging data, identify challenges and opportunities, set concrete goals and quantify resources needed to move forward
- The WIC/Pay for Prevention pilot project, made possible with funding from the HNH Foundation and the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust Fund of the Boston Foundation, reaches young children up to age 5 and pregnant women in Concord, Keene and Pittsfield
The WIC Pilot Project is increasing access to dental care
WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is a federal program that provides a combination of nutrition education, supplemental foods, breastfeeding support, and referrals for health care to low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to age 5.
According to New Hampshire Oral Health Program Manager Nancy Martin, the WIC pilot program "is enabling us to reach out to women and children at-risk for dental disease by taking dental services to where we find the people. Thanks to the HNH Foundation, we have an opportunity to determine whether this effort is cost effective and if the pilot framework can inform a statewide sustainable preventive oral health system. We recognize that grant funding is often temporary, so the question becomes: How do we create a preventive oral health care system that is sustainable over the long run and is not dependent on grant money?"
The news so far is good
A team consisting of a dental hygienist (under public health supervision) and a dental assistant are providing comprehensive preventive oral health services and referrals to local dental offices on a regular schedule at WIC clinics in Concord, Pittsfield, and Keene. These pilot sites were chosen based on the size of the community, the high level of need, and the existing referral network - dental professionals willing to see patients up to age 5 and pregnant women. At the first dental clinic in Pittsfield, for example, two of the four pregnant women seen had urgent dental needs that required referrals for further treatment.
When asked about the results of the pilot so far, Nancy reported, "Our WIC pilot project is on the right track. Early oral health intervention for pregnant women and young children avoids more costly, involved treatment later on. We see the potential in WIC clinics that could be a model to move the whole system forward."
Nancy is being assisted by Stephanie Kelly who says that she wanted the kind of "on the ground" experience that the WIC Pay for Prevention pilot project provides: "Oral health is such an interesting field because it is easily ignored. People often don't appreciate the connection with overall health. I'm proud to be an oral health champion."
Stephanie's work includes the collection and analysis of data under the supervision of Dr. Lida Anderson, Chronic Disease Epidemiologist at NH DHHS, who is training Stephanie to interpret data being collected on i-Pads at the WIC clinics: "We are gathering solid data that will show the value of this work and the positive outcomes for moms and very young children. We'll be able to go beyond anecdotal evidence, and provide a data-driven economic analysis about the cost savings of early oral health intervention."
What would success look like for the WIC/Pay for Prevention project?
- a sustainable model of preventive oral health care for low-income women and children
- an improvement in overall oral health of pregnant women and children
- less untreated decay
- more dental sealants in place
- an increase in awareness among WIC clients about the importance of oral health - along with quantifiable proof of the economic benefit/cost savings of early intervention
One Family's Story
"My daughter is 3½ and I am expecting another girl in October. I was thrilled to be offered dental services at the WIC Clinic in Pittsfield. I haven't seen a dentist in years and it was my daughter's first dental procedure. They were awesome with her - a big ball of sunshine. They talked to her throughout the entire procedure, showed her how to brush, applied fluoride varnish, and said she had a perfect mouth. I also had my teeth cleaned, and now I've been referred for more work. I have been in so much pain because of dental problems - I haven't been eating solid foods for several months. Now I have appointments with a dentist and an oral surgeon to pull my wisdom teeth and get these issues taken care of. Everyone is treating me like a queen. I see a real need for this program - my sister is in the same boat as I am, and everything I've experienced so far has been wicked helpful. I am extremely grateful for this program - for me and for my children. Thank you!"
- Susan, Pittsfield, NH
2013 Annual Report reflects on Sandi Van Scoyoc's legacy
The HNH Foundation's 2013 Annual Report, published April 8, 2014, reflects on Sandi Van Scoyoc's 15years as President of the Foundation. In her farewell message, Sandi offers her "wish list" for the health and wellbeing of New Hampshire's children, including the wish that "New Hampshire will match our neighbors to the south (Massachusetts) who have a 1% uninsured rate for their children."
Board Chair Martha McLeod's message noted that "the Board is committed to continuing Sandi’s legacy of focusing on community needs and promoting collaboration. 2014 will be a year of self-reflection in which we will explore opportunities for having the greatest impact with our resources. We’re in a good place for this transition. We have a capable Interim President in Patti Baum, our funding goals and processes are well established, and our grantees are doing valuable work.
"It is extremely gratifying for the Board to see the Foundation’s investments pay off," Martha notes. "The passage of Medicaid expansion by the New Hampshire Legislature this spring gave us much cause for celebration. In 2013, the HNH Foundation devoted substantial financial and staff resources to expanding health care coverage for New Hampshire’s most vulnerable families and children. We are delighted and proud that those efforts are bearing fruit."
Read the full 2013 Annual Report, which includes a detailed summary of the Foundation's 2013 Grants and Contracts, which totaled $686,957.