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National Healthy Eating Day: Your Toolkit for Success

Take the first step to making healthier food choices by taking part in the American Heart Association's National Eating Healthy Day on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. 

On this day, Americans are encouraged to commit to healthier eating. Celebrating National Eating Healthy Day is fun and easy! We provide a complete toolkit of materials and how-to information for workplaces, schools, individuals and community organizations.

A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. It’s not as hard as you may think!  Remember, it's the overall pattern of your choices that counts. Make the simple steps below part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart.

Remember, making small changes can put you on the right path to better health.  Start by eating a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups.  You may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight, cholesterol and your blood pressure. Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients. Also limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium you eat. Read Nutrition Fact labels carefully — the Nutrition Facts panel tells you the amount of healthy and unhealthy nutrients in a food or beverage. 

To assist you in making healthier food choices, the American Heart Association has developed a toolkit for your use.  Included in this toolkit are recipes, heart-smart grocery shopping tips, helpful guidance on dining out, seasonal eating strategies, and much, much more.

There is no one simple solution to the issue of obesity in our country. In order to reach our goal of improving cardiovascular health, we call on all Americans to recognize the severity of the obesity crisis, the toll it takes on our nation’s health and health care system, and the imperative need for collective action among food manufacturers, restaurants, government and consumers to change the direction we are headed.
In addition to the programs, tools and advocacy efforts already in place, the American Heart Association will continue to identify solutions to help Americans reverse obesity rates and improve their overall health. 

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Survivor Story: Michelle Meier

Michelle Meier knew she needed to make some changes.  She had battled obesity for several years, which led to other medical issues and depression.  She took medication to control high blood pressure and had to use an inhaler.  Michelle was in her late 20’s and recognized she was headed along a dangerous pathway. 

Michelle made the decision to change her life.  Together with her physician, they made the decision to try gastic bypass.  Michelle had done her research and knew that the only way this procedure would work is if she also made a commitment to permanently changing her lifestyle habits.  She learned that exercise and diet were important components to long term weight management success.

Before she could have the surgery, her doctor told her she needed to lose 10 pounds. Michelle cut greasy, processed foods and soda pop from her diet and she started exercising. It took 4 weeks, but she lost the 10 pounds.  She already noticed a difference in how she felt – both physical and mentally.  Michelle was ready to start her new journey in life. 

Her surgery was successful and Michelle knew it was now up to her to meet her goal.  She worked closely with her physician and kept her routine checkups.  Every month she lost weight; she was eating right and exercising.  Michelle’s life changed in other ways throughout this journey, but she was determined to meet her weight loss goal in spite of these challenges. 

One year post-surgery, Michelle met her goal.  She went from 300 pounds to a healthy and trim 150 pounds – and was no longer taking medications for high blood pressure. 

Four years later, Michelle has maintained her weight at 135 pounds and continues to not need medication for high blood pressure. 

Michelle shares her inspiring story to encourage others to be bold and make changes in your life.  The key to her success was motivation, inspiration, and support. 

“It will be hard work and it will not be a fast fix.  Keep working on it and you can accomplish anything,” said Michelle.

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Georgia Morse Middle School First SD School to Achieve School Nutrition Award

Georgia Morse Middle School in Pierre is the first South Dakota school to receive a Healthy Schools Award through the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  Former principal, Troy Wiebe accepted the award in Washington DC. 

The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program brings parents, school staff, and students together to turn campuses into healthier places. Studies show that healthy kids have higher attendance rates, higher test scores and behave better in class. More than 24,000 schools nationwide are using the Healthy Schools Program to make this the norm at school.

At Georgia Morse Middle School, vending machines are serving healthier snacks, and students are choosing fruit and vegetable options more frequently in the cafeteria, just to name a few of the school’s healthy changes. The staff also organized a “Girls on Track” program to help girls train for a 5K race and managed a weight lifting program after school three days per week. “The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program was essential in bringing incentives and awareness to our staff concerning national programs, expectations, and guidelines. The support we received from the Alliance was critical to the development of our team and provided excellent supports throughout the year,” said Principal Troy Wiebe. Staff are also making healthy changes by drinking more water and promoting participation in the district’s 5K run/walk.

We encourage more schools in South Dakota to follow their lead to ensure that all kids in South Dakota are on track toward a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and a healthy diet.  

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Advocdate Spotlight: Janelle Hoven and Katie Greenlee

In September 2009, Janelle Hoven and Katie Greenlee were invited to join the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon Executive Leadership Team.  Janelle and Katie, a mother-daughter team, became involved with the mission of Go Red, the American Heart Association’s nationwide movement that celebrates the energy, passion and power of women banding together to wipe out heart disease.   Their involvement is fueled by their commitment to advocate for women’s health, specifically women’s heart health.  Statistics indicate that 90 percent of all women have at least one risk factor for heart disease and 43 million women are living with heart disease.  With heart disease prominent in their family, they want to spread the word to other families to become aware of the symptoms of heart attack and stroke and emphasize that many heart attacks can be prevented by making healthier life choices. 

Co-Chairing the Executive Leadership Team for the Go Red for Women Luncheon this year, Janelle and Katie hope to reach out to women who simply haven’t gotten the message as well as provide encouragement and education about heart disease and healthy choices.  The research and education done by the American Heart Association is of great value to everyone!  We live in a community that is awakening to embrace the issue of heart health and what it takes to make it our mission to fight this disease.     

Janelle and Katie have participated in numerous activities over the years to spread awareness about heart disease.   They both belong to the Circle of Red which is a dynamic, committed group that works to increase awareness and education.   Janelle and Katie have seen first- hand the positive strides that are being made right here in our community and encourage women to join the movement.   They have also participated in the Red Dress Dash, the Heart Walk, and hosted a jewelry fundraiser during Heart Month.  In 2011, Janelle and Katie were selected to receive a Heart & Stroke Heroes Award from the American Heart Association in South Dakota for their work to create healthier communities safe from the devastation of heart disease and stroke.

Janelle and Katie encourage everyone to learn to recognize the symptoms associated with heart attack and stroke, and to spread the word to friends and the community about making the right choices and taking action.  Go Red!

Katie is a registered nurse on the Cardiac Specialty Unit at Sanford Health and Janelle is a real estate agent at Ameri-Star Real Estate.

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State of Obesity Report: South Dakota

In recognition of Childhood Obesity Awareness month, we are pleased to be able to provide our advocates with the most recent statistics on obesity in our state and across the nation. The State of Obesity Report (formerly F as in Fat), a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides a close-up look at our progress toward reducing obesity across all populations and demographics, and the work that lies ahead of us to ensure our kids are growing up healthy and strong. 

For the past 11 years, this report has raised awareness about the serious nature of obesity, and encouraged the creation of a national obesity prevention strategy.  The American Heart Association has worked alongside our partners at the Trust and RWJ Foundation, and others, to develop effective approaches for reversing the obesity epidemic at the local, state and federal level. 

We are pleased to see this report reflects that childhood obesity appears to be stabilizing among all children ages 0-18 – that is, it is not going up as significantly as in previous years.  However, much of the stabilization is among ages birth – two years old; unfortunately, the obesity rate among high school students has continued to increase over the past two years.

As you know, obesity has a dramatic impact on other chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and stroke, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and other serious illnesses. 

South Dakota is ranked 21st among all states and the District of Columbia with an obesity rate of 29.9%.  That is an increase of more than 19% since 1990, and a 7.3% increase in the last ten years.  We have a lot of work to do to bring obesity rates down among all age groups, and racial and ethnic disparities continue to exist. 

The report also highlights the various policy objectives that are important in our fight to reduce obesity.  Policy change at the local, state and federal level all can have a dramatic impact on reducing the impact of obesity.  In South Dakota, we can change the upward direction of obesity by encouraging physical activity before, during and after school, by ensuring our kids have healthy school lunches, improving access to healthy and affordable food, and reducing sodium consumption. 

Combatting obesity in our communities will take dedication, focus, innovation and cooperation.  Please join us in this fight!  Let us know obesity prevention is a priority for you and that you want to help us in our efforts.  Sign in to your profile at and click on your name in the upper right corner.  Under the Interests tab, check Obesity Prevention and Nutrition, or send me and email and let me know of your interest. 

For more on the full State of Obesity report, CLICK HERE.  For South Dakota specific information, CLICK HERE.  

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Join Us on Social Media!

Having an active, busy lifestyle doesn't mean you're not well-informed of the news of the day!  We get our news differently than before and social media platforms provide us with up-to-the-second information.  The American Heart Association in South Dakota wants YOU to stay informed of the latest discoveries, health news, and opportunities for engagement. Cardiovascular disease is still our nation's number one killer and while we've made progress, we have much more work to do in fighting this deadly disease.  Social media is the place to be for all the latest on our efforts to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  

Come and be a part of our social media network: Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.  Encourage friends and family members - those who have been touched by heart disease - to join us as well.  

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AHA Applauds CVS Decision to Ban Tobacco Products

Last February, CVS Caremark Corp. announced it would end the sale of tobacco products by Oct. 1, becoming the first national pharmacy chain to do so. The company noted their decision would result in a $2 billion loss in revenue, including $1.5 billion in direct tobacco sales and $500,000 in related purchases. But the company decided that selling tobacco was not in keeping with its broad mission of providing health services and advancing innovation.  This week, CVS, which also announced it will change its name to CVS Health, announced it will pull tobacco products from it's shelves almost a month earlier than planned.  We applaud CVS for taking this important step forward in reducing access to these deadly products, and we applaud their courage to put public health above profits.

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement on the decision by CVS Caremark to phase out tobacco sales:

“Smoking is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., killing 443,000 Americans and costing the nation $193 billion in healthcare expenses and lost productivity each year, according to a Surgeon General’s report released last month.

Today’s decision by CVS Caremark is an important step forward in reducing access to these deadly products, and we applaud their courage to put public health above profits.  We recognize that $2 billion in tobacco sales represents a significant sum for CVS Caremark, and that makes this decision even more admirable.

First use of cigarettes occurs by 18 years of age 87% of the time, and nearly all (98%) of first use is by 26 years of age.  There is no such thing as a ‘casual smoker’, as nicotine begins to addict immediately, and therefore removing the visibility and the availability of tobacco products from major retailers in an important step in preventing youth from ever having that first tobacco product.  Tobacco displays have a tremendous impact on our youth, with a direct corollary between exposure to tobacco marketing in stores and smoking initiation.   5.6 million young Americans who are alive today will die from smoking – unless there are more actions like this one today.

Many of our public health partners have joined us in our call for pharmacies to stop selling tobacco products, including the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association. In fact, in 2010, the American Pharmacists Association urged pharmacies to stop selling tobacco and pushed state pharmacy boards to discontinue issuing and renewing licenses of pharmacies that sell these products.

The timing of the announcement today comes just weeks after the 50th anniversary of the historic first Surgeon General’s Report, which concluded that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer.  Since that 1964 report, evidence has linked smoking to diseases of nearly all the body’s organs.

Tobacco use persists as the leading preventable cause of heart disease and stroke in our country.  Indications of heart disease such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, increased tendency for blood clots, decrease of HDL (good) cholesterol as well as a decreased tolerance for exercise are all directly tied to tobacco use.  Inhaling cigarette smoke produces several effects that damage the cerebrovascular system, leading to stroke. In fact, the most recent Surgeon General’s report established more new links, including one between exposure to second-hand smoke and a 20 to 30 percent increased risk for stroke.

On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report, the American Heart Association stood alongside many public health partners in Washington, DC, and called for a new national commitment to end the tobacco epidemic for good.  We called for bold action to achieve three goals: 1) Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent within 10 years; 2) protect all Americans from secondhand smoke within five years; and 3) ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco.  Today’s action by CVS Caremark represents a positive step forward for this vision.

We call upon other tobacco retailers, in particular pharmacies that play a role in protecting the health of Americans, to follow the excellent example being set by CVS Caremark, and discontinue the sales of this deadly product.”

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AHA Issues Statement on E-Cigs

Electronic cigarettes might help some people quit smoking, but the American Heart Association recommends them only as a last resort and only with several notes of caution.

AHA President Elliott Antman, M.D., underscored the careful approach Tuesday, a day after the organization’s first policy statement on e-cigarettes drew widespread media attention.  The policy statement called for strong new regulations to prevent access, sales and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth.

To read more, CLICK HERE.  

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Advocate Spotlight: Quality Physical Education - What is it?

Breon Schroeder Derby Spearfish SD and Chadron NE

Some individuals may remember a time where ‘gym’ class revolved around an unstructured chaos of playing dodge-ball, being picked last for teams, and sitting on the sidelines while the instructor focused on getting his or her athletes prepared for the big game. This ‘roll out the ball’ era is a stigma that continues to plague the field of physical education.

Having progressed well beyond ‘gym’ class, the field, as its name suggests, focuses on education; a continuous process that provides individuals with the knowledge, skills, tools, and resources necessary to enhance their well-being throughout their lifetime. Unlike other content areas, physical education focuses on the development of the whole child by emphasizing the three domains of learning: 1). Cognitive, 2). Affective and, 3). Psychomotor.

Physical education not only provides individuals with the opportunity to engage in physical activity, but it also offers a diverse, standards-based curriculum and a variety of quality assessment practices so that each student can find something they enjoy and will continue to participate in throughout their lifetime. In addition, the physical education environment fosters real-world skills essential to being successful in today’s competitive job market, such as teamwork, cooperation, and responsibility. Physical education also plays a crucial role when it comes to high stakes testing and financial gain for school districts, as several studies have shown a link between physical activity and academic success.   “Exercise improves learning on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus” (Ratey, 2008, p.53).  It has been proven that healthier students learn better (CDC, 2014a). Quality physical education can aid in student success by decreasing absenteeism, increasing fitness levels, and enhancing cognitive function.

However, despite the vast advantages physical education provides, including the education on the one thing people use every day, their bodies, it is often the first content area to be let go when school districts are faced with budget cuts.  With over $147 billion dollars spent annually on preventable, obesity-related illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (CDC, 2014b), educating students on the importance of lifetime physical activity through quality, daily physical education could have a substantial impact on both the health and economic status of our nation. If people are truly concerned about the success and well-being of our students, our future, they will get informed and become an advocate for quality, daily physical education.

Breon Schroeder Derby has a B.S in Physical education with minors in health and coaching from Black Hills State University in Spearfish. She has a M.Ed in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in PE from Chadron State College and is currently working on her dissertation to complete her Doctorate in Health Education from A.T Still University. Breon taught physical and health education at Lead Deadwood High School and for the past two years was an instructor in the HPER department at Chadron State College. She currently serves as instructor of HPER at BHSU.

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Grab Your Sneakers for Heart Walks in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pierre

Grab your sneakers, your friends and family, and head on out to a Heart Walk near you!  The Eastern South Dakota Heart Walk is Saturday, August 23rd, at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, the Black Hills Heart Walk is Saturday, September 13th at the Main St. Square, and the Central South Dakota Heart Walk is Saturday, September 20th at Hyde Park.  Heart Walk educates South Dakotans about our risk of cardiovascular diseases & stroke, and what we can do to prevent them. Funds raised support medical research, public awareness, provide education & advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association. Through the efforts of a tremendous volunteer team, the Eastern South Dakota Heart Walk, led by Ken Baptist from John Morrell, has secured 60 Sioux Falls area companies and is on track to achieve their goal of raising $210,000 for the lifesaving mission of the AHA. Companies and individuals in Central and Western South Dakota are already supporting Heart Walk by organizing teams and encouraging their businesses to support our life-saving mission.  

It's not too late to sign up, organize a team, and help raise awareness for our number one killer - heart disease!  Join more than 4000 walkers across South Dakota to help fight cardiovascular disease and stroke.  

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