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What's Happening in 2015?

Recently the North Carolina Advocacy Coordinating Committee had a teleconference to finalize the 2015 Public Policy Agenda for North Carolina. The committee is excited to announce the priorities for the upcoming year and to see what all we can accomplish in a new exciting legislative session! Below you will find the approved 2015 Public Policy Agenda, we hope that the issues we are focusing on will be as exciting for you as they are to us and that you are looking forward to all the great things that are in store for the upcoming year!

 

The American Heart Association / American Stroke Association supports and advocates for public policies that will help improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths by coronary heart disease and stroke by 20 percent by 2020.

State Policy Priorities and Goals

  • Increase availability of healthy foods (including fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, and lean meats/seafood) in North Carolina:
    • Secure public funding to create a Healthy Corner Store initiative that increases the amount of healthy food offered in existing corner stores in low and moderate income communities.
    • Secure public funding to create a Healthy Food Financing initiative to increase the number of healthy food retail outlets in underserved communities.
  • Close the Coverage Gap in North Carolina to assure access to health care for adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level.
  • Support the adoption of coverage for all evidence-based, cardiovascular-related United States Prevention Services Task Force (USPSTF) A and B preventive services with no or minimal cost-sharing by NC Medicaid.
  • Tobacco Control – Support an increase North Carolina’s cigarette excise tax by $1.00 per pack and support an excise tax increase on other tobacco (non-cigarette) products to a tax rate equivalent with that of cigarettes.
  • Support codifying the Safe Routes to School program in NC.

Local Policy Priorities and Goals

  • Promote the adoption of citywide food and beverage vending and/or service standards consistent with AHA guidelines in the cities of Raleigh and Charlotte.
  • Support efforts in Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte to enact smoke-free policies to provide protection from indoor exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Promote daily physical activity in the Greater Raleigh and Charlotte communities by supporting policy efforts for active transportation, including bike and pedestrian pathways.

Have any questions about the 2015 NC Public Policy Agenda?  Email Betsy Vetter (betsy.vetter@heart.org) for more information!

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Dr. Jan Carney, Vermont

The American Heart Association recently released a new position paper on e-cigarettes and reconfirmed its desire for the Food and Drug Administration to take action soon to regulate these devices.  Vermonters like the Attorney General, the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont and Dr. Jan Carney, a member of the American Heart Association’s Vermont Board and Associate Dean for Public Health at UVM’s Medical School also think that’s a good idea. 

Dr. Carney recently talked about her concern that the use of e-cigarettes by high school students doubled in just one year.

Watch the whole interview here.  http://www.mychamplainvalley.com/story/the-dangers-of-e-cigs/d/story/PIPrZC8miEuUxV9blB8nBQ

The AHA worked with the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont and the Vermont Legislature this past session to ban the use of e-cigs in Vermont schools and daycares.

Join us in urging your legislators to also include restrictions on e-cigarettes in Vermont’s clean indoor air laws.

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Back to School Should Mean Exercise for Kids of All Ages

With our kids back to school, are they getting as much exercise as they did this summer?

This year, Vermont’s State Board of Education required Vermont schools to offer at least 30 minutes of physical activity to kids a day.  Ask your schools what they are doing. Physical activity can be easily integrated into the school day. Kids who are active do better academically. It’s a win-win. Smart and healthy!

Advocate for more physical education in school as well so your children can learn the life-long habit of being physically active.

And, remember that fun and exercise at school doesn’t have to be for just kids. Ask your schools if they are opening their doors to the community for recreational activities like open gyms and fitness centers for parents to use, or walking clubs for the elderly before or after school hours. Let me know what you find out. Tina.zuk@heart.org.

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Me, Affected by Obesity?

Think about whether your life might be affected by obesity. Now think again.

Over 60% of Vermont adults and 29% of our kids are overweight or obese.

Are you paying for that?

New estimates from the Rudd Center for Food Policy shows it’s pretty likely. Obesity-related health care costs among Vermont adults are estimated at $202 million per year, and that doesn’t even include obesity costs for children.

All taxpayers are affected. Public funds, such as Medicare and Medicaid, pay for almost 1/2 of all adult medical expenditures in Vermont attributable to obesity ($57 million per year by Medicaid and $41 million by Medicare).

How about at work? Yes, there too.

Annual cost of obesity-related absenteeism in Vermont is $14.5 million[i]  and that’s equal to 7.7% of the total costs of absenteeism in Vermont’s economy.

Isn’t it time we did something about it?

The Rudd Center also estimates Vermont would raise more than $34 million in new revenue from a 2 cent per ounce excise tax on sugar-added drinks.This funding could be used for obesity prevention and health care.

Sound good? We think so. You can help. Find out more.

https://www.facebook.com/HealthierVT

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Finkelstein, EA, Fiebelkorn, IC, Wang, G. State-level estimates of annual medical expenditures attributable to obesity. Obesity Research 2004;12(1):18–24.

Andreyeva T, Luedicke J, Wang YC.  State-level estimates of obesity-attributable costs of absenteeism. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2014, in press.


http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/sodatax.aspx

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My Children are Why

By Nicole Olmstead, Gov. Relations Director, Arizona

The AHA/ASA recently launched a new campaign, “Life is Why.”  When you think about that phrase, “Life is Why” it brings to mind so many things.  For me, I think about my kids—Emily, William and Katherine. 

I work for the AHA/ASA because I want Emily and Katherine to know the importance of being physically active.  My hope is that they grow up into strong women who understand their risk of heart disease and stroke and the importance of living a heart healthy lifestyle.  Additionally, I work here because of the numerous medical advances that the American Heart Association has directly contributed to by funding research, especially in regards to cardiac care. Medical advances like pulse oximetry screening on newborns gives me hope that groundbreaking medical advances are on the way.  This really hits home as my son William is a critical congenital heart defect survivor who may have to have heart surgery again at some point in his life.  If that day comes, I hope that surgical procedures will have advanced to the point that they may be able to operate without stopping his heart to perform the surgery.  So for me: “Life is Why… my children are why.” 

I want to urge you to visit the You’re the Cure website and share your personal why with us.  Tell everyone you know that at the American Heart Association – “Life is Why.”

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Staff Meeting = Fun and Fundraising

Just look at this picture. What an amazing place for a staff meeting! One of the Maine fundraising staff has access to family camps on Kezar Lake in Center Lovell. She and her cousins from all over the country (first, second, once removed etc.) spend their summers reuniting, swimming, boating and relaxing. Yesterday, the Maine staff of the American Heart Association joined the cousins for our summer retreat. There were pontoon boat rides, swimming, laughing, lounging and connecting. The weather was beautiful (thunderstorms threatened but never materialized).

This is my second summer retreat and I enjoy the views and camaraderie—but I also enjoy learning a bit about what my colleagues are working on. I drove the recently retired and newly hired Central Maine Walk directors the 2 hours to and from Center Lovell. As they chatted about leadership committees, third-party events and walk teams, I got a lesson in what my fundraising colleagues do every day. I attend most of these events with my advocacy hat on, and help set up and clean up, but I don’t track the day-to-day details. There are a million of them.

Without our tireless fundraisers, I would not have the resources to do what I do. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association could not fund cutting edge research, educational campaigns or survivor support. Those of us on the "Mission Side" of the coin would be completely ineffective without them. I know this (I was a fundraiser early in my professional life) but it is good to re-learn and to remind myself of all that they do.

So, if you participate with the American Heart Association as an advocacy volunteer, please consider doing a Heart Walk, attending a luncheon or an evening event or getting involved in our fundraising efforts. I promise you that the amazing fundraising staff will make it easy for you to help. It will seem as fun and relaxing as a day on the lake.

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New crusader in fight to reduce consumption of sugar drinks

The Alliance for a Healthier Vermont is poised to fight for a 2 cent per ounce tax on sugar-added drinks to fight obesity in Vermont. And our coalition has an experienced leader joining the fight.

Anthony Iarrapino will be the sugar sweetened beverage tax campaign coordinator.  He has served previously as one of the leading environmental advocates in the state as the Senior Attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation. Over his 8 years at CLF- his expertise has included lobbying, grassroots organizing and mobilizing, media outreach, coalition building, campaign planning and implementation.

When coming on board, Anthony said, "In my career as an environmental attorney, I gained substantial experience successfully fighting for precedent-setting policies to protect and improve public health conditions in the face of tough opposition from industry. With strong support from the American Heart Association and a broad coalition of Vermont's other public health organizations, I am excited to set another important precedent by helping Vermont become the first state to tax sugary drinks as a means of curbing their overconsumption, leveling the playing field for healthier alternatives, and reducing obesity and related illnesses."

Join us in welcoming Anthony to our team!

Photo courtesy of Vermont Public Radio.

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Burlington event focuses on sugar's impact on cardiovascular disease and health

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories or 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and 150 calories of 9 for teaspoons for men. But the reality is people are consuming far more. And sugary drinks are the primary source of added sugars in American diets.

Learn more about the impact of sugar on your health, including sugary drinks, from a local and national expert.

AHA volunteer and University of Vermont Professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences and Pediatrics Rachel Johnson, R.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., will be speaking about sugar’s impact on health at Community Medical School at the UVM College of Medicine in Burlington on October 7th at 6 pm. The event, which takes place in Carpenter Auditorium in the Given Building, is free and open to the public. For more information, call 802-847-2886.

The following are excerpts from Professor Johnson’s February 2013 testimony to the Vermont legislature about sugary drinks and their impact on health.

On average Americans consume 22 teaspoons - or 352 calories - of added sugars a day, the equivalent of about 2, 12 ounce soft drinks. Teens (age 12-17 years) and children (age 6 – 11 years) average 17 percent of their total calorie intake per day from added sugars.

The majority of Americans’ added sugars intake comes from sugar-sweetened beverages – soft drinks, energy drinks, sport drinks and fruit drinks account for about half of our added sugars intake. Regular calorie soft drinks are the NUMBER ONE single source of calories in the US diet.  This means that nutrient-void, empty-calorie soft drinks contribute more calories than any other food and beverage consumed by Americans. 

A systematic literature review published in 2010, concluded that “all lines of evidence consistently support the conclusion that the consumption of SSBs has contributed to the obesity epidemic.” 

There has been a proliferation of public health campaigns designed to limit Americans’ SSB consumption. 

Why do these recent public health interventions solely target SSBs and not foods like candy, cookies, cakes or other sugary treats? One primary reason is because energy consumed as a beverage is believed to be less satiating than energy consumed as solid food, and the body does not adjust for the liquid intake. According to the American Public Health Association’s policy statement on SSBs they “trick” the body’s food regulatory system and add to total energy intake rather than displacing other sources of calories. Another reason, also pointed out in the APHA’s statement, is that “food is essential to life, but SSBs are not. SSBs are a food-like substance that contribute only empty, nutrient void calories to the diet and exacerbate many chronic health problems.” Lastly, unlike food, there are many beverage options that have no-calories or are low in calories. 

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Are New Hampshire Roads Safe for Biking and Walking?

New Hampshire has a unique opportunity to make roads going through our communities to be safe for all. By adopting a "Complete Streets" policy, the NH Department of Transportation can help us all be a little more physically active. And that is good for the health of Granite Staters! You may be asking "What is a Complete Streets policy?" Its a policy whereby federally funded road construction or reconstruction would be planned and built so that they are safe and convenient for all users and all modes of transportation, including bicyclists and pedestrians. Let's make our community parks, playgrounds, and roadways to get to them, more accessible for hearthealthy lifestyles. Visit http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/complete-streets/ to learn more about the Complete Streets initiative.

 

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Summer is Sweet Enough Without Sugary Drinks

Sugar sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in Americans’ diets. Consumption of these drinks has increased 500% in the last fifty years!

It’s no wonder we’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic that’s responsible for 21% of all health care costs.

Join our fight to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.  Summer is a great time to start. Begin at home, then make a pledge to help spread the word. Choose one of the options below or come up with your own idea. But take action!

  • Share your story with our Government Relations Director tina.zuk@heart.org concerning how sugary drinks have negatively impact your life or the life of a patient, friend or family member.
  • Write a letter to your local paper saying a tax on sugary drinks could help reduce obesity.
  • Ask a local business to offer more healthy drink options.
  • Ask your kids’ summer camp to encourage parents to only pack water and discourage fruit drinks and sports drinks.
  • Ask community leaders to improve water quality in parks and schools.
  • Ask your dentist to talk to all his/her patients about the effects of sugary drinks.
  • Serve or bring no-sugar drinks to your next community event.
  • Tell other parents and caregivers about how much sugar is in sports drinks, juice drinks and sodas and why you choose healthy drinks.

The American Heart Association is working together with the Alliance for a Healthier Vermont to tackle obesity and sugary drinks in Vermont. Learn more by visiting:  http://allianceforahealthiervt.org/.

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