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WIN! Tobacco Cessation Funding Granted

The American Heart Association and our You’re the Cure advocates and partners made a big win this month!

After years of campaigning to increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation in the District, our efforts have finally been rewarded. On October 1, 2014, DC Council granted $2 million dollars to the District’s tobacco control program. This has been a long, hard campaign that will save a lot of lives, and is something to be celebrated!

The Need For Funding:
Twenty percent of District residents smoke, and 700 die from tobacco related causes each year.

DC tobacco taxes rake in $35 million dollars annually, yet, as little as three years ago, none of this funding was going towards tobacco prevention and cessation efforts in the District.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that $10.7 million be dedicated to the District’s tobacco control program each year. DC has long lagged far beneath this recommendation. Before the funding increase at the beginning of the month, DC’s tobacco control program did not even have enough funding to adequately support the District’s Quitline.

Although the District is still far from CDC’s recommended $10.7 million, this $2 million increase is a huge leap in that direction.

Shout out to Our Partners and Volunteers:
The American Heart Association has been working to increase budget appropriation for tobacco control for a long time and is thrilled with this recent $2 million appropriaton.

We would like to give a big thanks to our partners who helped us achieve this win:
        American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
        Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
        DC Tobacco Free Coalition

We would also like to thank our many You’re the Cure advocates who helped make our campaign a success.  Our advocates contributed greatly to the cause by making phone calls, drop-by visits, face-to-face visits, sending letters in the mail, bearing oral testimonies, acting as spokespeople, and putting on rallies.

Thank you! Your efforts have made a world of difference in the success of this campaign.

Hope for the Future:
We are confident that the health department will make the most of the funds it has been given for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts. We, along with our partners, will continue to work diligently to secure the CDC-recommended funding level of $10.7 million. This is the start of great things to come concerning tobacco cessation and prevention efforts in Washington, DC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Thank you to Catherine Christiansen for development of this blog post)

 

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One Step Closer to Healthy Food Access in Minneapolis!

The Staple Food Ordinance passed the Minneapolis City Council’s Health, Environment and Community Engagement committee unanimously on October 20, 2014. Huge thank you to You’re the Cure advocate Dr. Courtney Jordan Baechler for testifying on behalf of the American Heart Association.

The Staple Food Ordinance would remove a key barrier for many to eating healthy by making healthier food more available and accessible to Minneapolis residents. If passed, this ordinance would ensure that stores offer an appropriate variety and amount of staple foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. It would also provide store owners with flexibility to meet requirements using culturally appropriate foods and clarify exemption criteria for business owners across all types of retail food outlets. There are many barriers to eating healthy, but proximity to healthier food is barrier that can be addressed

Corner stores are a frequent source of food for urban residents, youth and families, but often do not carry healthy foods. However, residents living near supermarkets have healthier diets and are 17% less likely to be obese. Additionally white and higher income residents are more likely to eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day compared to lower income residents and people of color.

The American Heart Association recommends that children eat at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal. But many Minnesota children are falling short. The 2013 Minnesota Student Survey found that 55% of respondents are not eating fruit and 60% are not eating vegetables at least once a day. Even more startling, 7% ate no fruit at all and 1 out of 10 ate no vegetables at all, during the previous week.

Measures like this ordinance will create more opportunities for parents to incorporate fruits and vegetables as part of regular meals and improve the diets of many children.

There was a tremendous show of support at the public hearing! The next step is passing the ordinance at the full Council. Watch for an opportunity soon to contact the Council members and help voice your support for this ordinance.

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Share Your Pics: Join Us for an Online Food Fight

Fall brings about visions of harvest and nature's bounty. Unfortunately what we see when we are out on the go doesn't always match that vision. What do you see? This fall we want to know what you see - in convenience stores or where you stop to shop when you are on the go. Simply snap a picture for us and then upload it to your favorite social media site with the hash tag #healthyonthegoNC.

If you see some great healthy food, let us know by uploading your pictures and captioning them with "This corner store is making it easy for me to be #healthyonthegoNC." Or is your local selection not so great? Show us with "This is all I have to choose from? I want my corner store to be #healthyonthegoNC" - or simply create your own caption with the hash tag! 

**Many thanks to Victoria Scholl, who has been interning in our Morrisville Office, for putting together this post!

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Artificial Sweeteners May Increase Blood Sugar

The below article was featured on Heart.org on October 7th.

A recent scientific study says people should reconsider their heavy use of artificial sweeteners, which may actually increase blood sugar by altering natural gut bacteria.

The study, published in the science journal Nature, was conducted largely on mice and included an experiment on seven people who did not normally consume artificial sweeteners. The researchers primarily used saccharin in the experiments, however some of the experiments also included aspartame and sucralose. They found that some mice and people had a two-to four-times increase in blood sugars and changes in the types of microbes in their intestines. The findings counter the perception that artificial sweeteners, which are not meant to be absorbed by the digestive tract, don’t affect blood sugar or glucose tolerance – which can be a harbinger of diabetes.

The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association reviewed the safety of artificial sweeteners in a 2012 statement and concluded they should be used “judiciously” as a way to reduce sugar intake.

The new study, said Dr. Rachel Johnson, an American Heart Association volunteer and one of the AHA statement’s authors, is intriguing because it went beyond animal studies to humans. But she points to its small sample size. About half of the people in the study did not have a blood sugar response. In addition to the seven-person experiment it included an analysis of an ongoing nutritional study on 381 people.

“As with all science, we need to validate this with other samples and larger samples,” said Johnson, who is a professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont. “It’s something we have to pay attention to, but I don’t think at this point it contradicts our current statement. … We had caveats and our conclusion was fairly guarded. They [non-nutritive sweeteners] were certainly not a magic bullet.”

The study’s authors, Eran Elinav and Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, said more information and confirmation of their results are needed.

As a result of these new findings, though, Johnson said she might reconsider her use of artificial sweeteners beyond her usual morning latte. But she says no one should use this one study to switch back to drinking fully sweetened beverages.

“Be moderate,” she said. “This is not an excuse to say that non-nutritive sweeteners are not good for you, so go back to more sugar. That’s not a good decision. We have a compelling body of evidence on what sugar-sweetened beverages do.”

The AHA recommends that added processed sugars should be limited to about 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons a day for men. Today, the average daily American intake of processed sugar is 22 teaspoons and about 45 gallons of sugary drinks a year. For adults, the AHA recommends no more than 36 ounces, or 450 calories, a week in sugar-added beverages.

Consumers are faced with balancing all of this in light of another recent announcement. The leading producers of sugar-added beverages pledged recently to reduce the number of calories by 20 percent in the next 20 years. Under the agreement with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which was founded by the AHA and the Clinton Foundation, the beverage companies said they would market and distribute drinks in a way to help guide consumers to smaller portions and low- or zero-calorie drinks.

The companies also committed to providing calorie counts on vending machines, self-serve dispensers and retail coolers in stores and restaurants. The companies’ progress will be monitored by an independent, third-party evaluator at multiple intervals until the conclusion of the agreement in 2025.

“I think the most compelling thing about it is they are admitting there is a problem with the number of calories in the American diet that is coming from sugary beverages,” Johnson said. “This is the first time they’ve come out and said there’s a problem. I was taken by that.”

For more information:

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Idaho is One of Six States Where Obesity Rates Are Still Going Up

Guest Blogger: Grace Henscheid, Grassroots Advocacy Director

In early September the State of Obesity Report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust of America’s Health was released and it is clear there is still much work to be done in our fight against obesity.

While there are many statistics in the report one of the numbers that stood out to us was that Idaho is one of six states where obesity rates are still on the rise.

Idaho’s obesity rate in 2013 was 29.6% up from 21.8% in 2003. There are many factors that contribute to this increased number but the American Heart Association is determined to help every state control and improve these numbers. 

In order to lower these numbers we need to build communities that encourage healthy eating and active lifestyles. One of the programs the American Heart Association offers for free to people that are trying to improve their health is the “Life’s Simple 7” program. This program helps participants to manage heart risk by understanding the importance of getting active, controlling cholesterol, eating better, managing blood pressure, losing weight, reducing blood sugar and stopping smoking.

In addition to this program, the AHA is working in our communities to educate people about their risk factors and how they can take personal control over their health.

We are working to build healthier communities by passing state and local legislation. In the 2015 legislative session we will try again to pass minimum time requirements for physical education in our K-12 schools. We believe that by establishing physical activity early in life it will help children transition into active adults; one of the many factors in maintaining a healthy adult lifestyle.

While the news about Idaho’s obesity rate might be discouraging we aren’t giving up on turning around this dangerous trend. With help from advocates like you we believe it is a battle we can win.

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Stories from Central and Eastern Oregon

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

Recently, I have had an opportunity to connect with a special kind of survivor: those who live in rural Oregon.

From Deschutes County in the high desert of Central Oregon, to Umatilla County in the rugged, wheat-growing region of Eastern Oregon, our fellow Oregonians living in these regions face unique challenges when it comes to caring for their health.

Their challenges become even greater when managing the effects of cardiovascular disease or stroke. With fewer hospitals and fewer providers, time and distance to receive care can be much longer.

In particular, I had the great privilege of meeting two incredible women—both survivors living east of Oregon’s more populated western corridor.

Both were willing to discuss their challenges with health care and to stand with the AHA to call for improvements in rural Oregon. They share an impressive self-sufficiency and a deep pride in their community.

Anne of La Pine knows that in addition to ensuring stroke survivors have access to the consistent rehabilitation therapy, access to public transportation is just as important for her and her husband. While she has great admiration for her various medical providers, systematic improvements could be made to help her coordinate care between them.

Cathy, whose family roots go back generations in Umatilla County, will tell you that she doesn’t like to complain—she does the things that need to be done, and knows that things can be even tougher for others. Cathy, like many survivors, has the daunting task of managing multiple prescriptions to treat her heart condition and diabetes. As a caregiver to family members also managing chronic conditions (including her son, a stroke survivor), Cathy also sees to the appointments and needs of her loved ones.

The AHA advocates for the care of all Oregonians with decision makers in DC and in the state—but that advocacy would fall flat if it weren’t for brave survivors like Anne and Cathy being willing to speak up.

We have the deepest gratitude and appreciation for their recent efforts—and I feel lucky to have met them. They took the time and energy to go the extra mile to join our advocacy efforts—and like everything else for them—they had to work go a little further than many of us to do so.

If you are a survivor or know survivors of heart disease or stroke anywhere in Oregon, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at Sarah.Higginbotham@heart.org.

Here’s to the survivors in Oregon’s more rugged and absolutely inspiring landscapes!

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Montgomery Advocates, Will You Help?

We are at a critical point in the Smokefree Montgomery campaign and need the help of You're the Cure advocates more than ever before.

This month, Councilor C.C. Calhoun  is expected to introduce a smokefree local ordinance that the American Heart Association and its Smokefree Montgomery coalition partners support.

We need to know which Montgomery advocates are willing to express their support for a smokefree city by:

  • Meeting with City Councilors. In partnership with the Smokefree Montgomery coalition, we're arranging materials with City Councilors for all interested advocates. A staff member of the Smokefree Montgomery coalition will attend all meetings.
  • Writing Letters.
  • Attending a Public Hearing.

If you're interested in any of these opportunities, please email Stephanie.Christie@heart.org today.

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New Report Highlights Where Healthy Food Access Can Make a Difference

A new report released today highlights areas across Alabama where increasing access to healthy, fresh and affordable foods would make the biggest impact.

The report, “Fresh Food for All: Improving Access to Fresh Food in Alabama,” was authored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Wealth Creation Clinic and Emerging ChangeMakers Network (“ECN”), a Mobile-based organization that seeks to assist emerging leaders to make positive changes in economically challenged communities.

Using a combination of zip code and census tract data, the ECN report has identified well over 140 communities in Alabama that lack access to healthy, fresh and affordable foods, areas that are popularly referred to as “food deserts” or “areas of food imbalance.” People living in areas of food imbalance are more likely to have lower cognitive functioning, lower productivity, increased rates of obesity, and a higher rate of diet-related disease and death, the report finds.

Read more: http://www.virtual-strategy.com/2014/10/07/new-report-emerging-changemakers-network-identifies-communities-alabama-without-access-he#ixzz3FT38kcEk

 

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Lauren's Law Update

Schools across Illinois are making great strides towards implementing the Lauren Laman CPR and AED training law, passed earlier this year and signed by Governor Pat Quinn on June 5, 2014. The law makes quality CPR and AED training a required part of the existing, required-for-graduation health curriculum for all secondary school students in Illinois. AHA/ASA staff and volunteers have been proud to work with the Laman family in order to help create a fitting and life-saving legacy for their daughter, Lauren.

Check out this great article that ran in the October 5 Springfield State-Journal Register on the implementation of the law.

Defibrillator law less costly, not as difficult for schools than feared

School districts in Illinois for the first time this year are required to teach students how to perform CPR and use a defibrillator.

After early uncertainty about how to comply and what it might cost, area school officials said last week that it isn’t as difficult or expensive as feared.

"I think it’s one of the mandates that is good," said Rick Sanders, director of school support for the Springfield School District. "It’s not very expensive, and the payback could be potentially huge." Read more here.

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Register Now! "How-To" Advocate for the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP)

SHIP funding will be up for discussion at the Minnesota Legislature in 2015. Thursday November 6th, 2014 - 6:00 - 7:00 PM and Friday November 7th, 2014 - 12:00 - 1:00 PM. Join other advocates across Minnesota to learn about how you can advocate for SHIP! Learn tips and message points from our expert presenters to bring your local success stories to the ears of policymakers:

-Britta Orr, Executive Director, Local Public Health Association

-Rachel Callanan, Regional Vice President of Advocacy, American Heart Association

-Rebecca Thoman, Government Relations Specialist, American Cancer Society—Cancer Action Network

Who should attend? SHIP Leadership Team members, SHIP staff and grantees, local SHIP partners, local champions of SHIP.  This training is free, but advanced registration is required.

Please register here or contact Anne Simaytis at anne.simaytis@heart.org to reserve your spot by November 3rd, 2014.

 

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