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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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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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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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We need your help in fighting obesity!

We need your help in our effort to provide Vermonters more places to recreate. Legislation which would give schools protection from liability to open their facilities to the community for recreational use has stalled. Though we had some amazing testimony from supporters before the House Education Committee recently, the committee needs to hear from more Vermonters who want this legislation and schools whose concerns over liability may be preventing them from opening their doors to the community.

Here are some key facts. Please write letters to your local papers about this important issue!

  • This legislation provides schools with a tool to open more recreational facilities to Vermonters and help Vermont reduce increasing obesity rates.
  • It would remove barriers and perceived barriers for schools to open their buildings and grounds to the community for recreational purposes.
  • Vermont schools want to be a community resource and have noted liability as one of their top concerns with opening their facilities to the public for recreation.
  • Vermont wouldn’t be alone in addressing this issue – At least 13 states have passed legislation that meets AHA standards. 6 others are working to strengthen their laws.

We can help to address this by opening our schools’ facilities and grounds to communities for recreational activities and giving them the resources to do it by:

  • Providing access to recreational facilities is critical for helping people be more active.
  • School facilities can be an excellent resource for recreation and exercise where there is limited availability or private options are too expensive.
  • Research shows that people who are able to easily access recreational facilities exercise 38% more than those without easy access.
  • Having access to parks and recreational facilities is associated with lower body mass index among children and increased physical activity among adults.
  • Vermont data shows there are significant disparities in access to parks and recreational facilities across Vermont.
  • Franklin County, has a rate of 4 recreational facilities per 100,000 people. It also has a high rate of physical inactive adults – 25% get no physical activity and 29% are obese.
  • In comparison, Washington County has a rate of 18 recreational facilities per 100,000 people. Rates of physical inactivity and adult obesity are comparatively lower --18% of adults get no physical activity and 22% of adults are obese.
  • Providing schools liability protection to open their facilities to the public for recreation will help to level the playing field.
  • Schools can offer a variety of safe facilities, including running tracks, pools, gymnasiums, fitness rooms, and playgrounds for Vermonters of all ages to use at little or no cost.

Click on the link below to take action on our alert: http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=34254

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Volunteer Ed Adrian Argues for Shared Use Legislation

Burlington Attorney Ed Adrian rallied behind the American Heart Association's effort to pass legislation providing schools with greater liability protection to open their buildings to the community for recreational purposes. Ed testified before the House Education Committee this month telling committee members its not unusual for Vermont to pass legislation providing immunity to a certain group when it benefits the greater good, especially for health. He noted that while some schools may incur costs related to increased use of their facilities, Vermonters overall could benefit from decreased health care spending as we reduce reduce obesity rates via increased physical activity.

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Vermont principals support community use of schools - but are also concerned about liability

The American Heart Association supports legislation providing Vermont schools with greater protection from liability to encourage schools to open their buildings and grounds to the public for recreational use during non-school hours. Research shows people are 38% more likely to exercise when they have parks or creational facilities nearby.

93 Vermont principals who responded to our survey on the issue between October and January supported community recreational use of schools and liability was their greatest concern. See the survey results below. 

 

Are you in general supportive of community use of your recreation facilities and grounds during non-school hours as a way of providing an opportunity for your community to live a healthy lifestyle?

 Yes – 98.89%

No – 3.33%

Please prioritize what concerns you may have from the list below regarding allowing school building and grounds use after hours? 

  •  Incurring unplanned costs as a result of others using the building – 14.13%
  • Liability for the school if someone is hurt – 27.17%
  • Supervision – 26.09%
  • Damage to the school building – 5.43%
  • Alcohol or drug use on the school premises – 1.09%
  • Safety of users – 9.78%
  • Condition building is left following the activity – 7.61%
  • Disruption of the regular school schedule – 2.17%
  • I don't think about any of these – 6.52%

Please let us know if your school is concerned about this issue. Email Tina.Zuk@heart.org.

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