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Paul Rhien
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Improving Health Outcomes Among Youth

February 13, 2017 - Public Relations - Information

Obesity, Pregnancy, Smoking and more Declining in NM Youth

Today, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced improved health outcomes in key areas for New Mexico’s youth, including reduced rates of obesity, pregnancy, smoking and others. Teen pregnancy rates for young women and girls between the ages of 15 and 17 have declined to their lowest rate in decades. Cigarette smoking among teenagers has declined to almost one in ten, the lowest ever recorded in New Mexico. And while other states have seen increases, the childhood obesity rate continues to trend downward.

“Building stronger and healthier families is one of our top priorities for New Mexico,” said Governor Susana Martinez. “My administration is committed to improving the quality of life for New Mexicans – particularly those who need it the most. Results like these encourage us to keep doing all we can to build on these efforts.”

Two recent reports from NMDOH highlight improved health status and outcomes throughout the state. The Strategic Plan Progress Report for Fiscal Years 2014 to 2016, and Health Equity in New Mexico, 11th Edition outline the state of public health in New Mexico including measurable progress the Department set out to achieve three years ago.

Key highlights include:

  • Births to teens ages 15 to 17 declined and are now at their lowest point in many decades.  Although there are still disparities among Hispanics and American Indians, the teen birth rate continues to decline across all races and ethnicities.
  • Cigarette smoking among adolescents also declined to nearly one in ten, the lowest rate ever measured in the state. Cigarette smoking has also declined in Hispanics, American Indians, and African Americans.
  • New Mexico’s childhood obesity rate continues to trend downward as most other  US states have experienced increases.
  • Other highlights from the reports include the percent of low- and moderate-income mothers and infants in the WIC program who initiate breastfeeding rose from 76.5 percent in FY 14 to 81.4 percent in FY16. New Mexico also ranked 10th best in the nation with a childhood immunization coverage level of 75.9 percent, a significant increase from just 45.8 percent in 2009.

“As we work with our younger generations to establish healthy behaviors, our recent successes are promising,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “We are creating a foundation for healthy lifestyles in our state for years to come. We are looking to build on these successes to continue improving the health and well-being of all New Mexicans.”

These reports are designed to help inform, educate, and empower community, state, and tribal partners and policymakers to use in the design and implementation of effective strategies to continue to improve health outcomes and decrease health disparities in New Mexico.

Both reports are available online from on the New Mexico Department of Health website:

For more information, see fact sheets on priority areas for NMDOH: Teen Birth Rate Fact Sheet, Adult Cigarette Smoking Fact Sheet, and Childhood Obesity Fact Sheet.

Media Contact

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Mejorando los resultados de salud entre los jóvenes