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Seventy Percent of NC Voters Support Funding a Healthy Corner Store Initiative

On February 24, the NC Alliance for Health (North Carolina’s statewide coalition working on obesity and tobacco use prevention) released a statewide survey that shows that North Carolina registered voters (70 percent) support the creation of a Healthy Corner Store Initiative as a way of tackling the state’s childhood obesity epidemic. Additionally, a similar majority says that state and local governments should provide training and incentives to encourage neighborhood stores, where people often shop for groceries, to stock healthy foods.

"According to this poll, North Carolinians view unhealthy eating and childhood obesity as the most serious problems facing children in the United States, above physical activity, quality of education, and children not spending enough time outdoors," said Sarah Jacobson, Healthy Food Access Coordinator for the North Carolina Alliance for Health (NCAH) and You’re the Cure advocate. "This clearly demonstrates that it is time to stop talking about this issue and start doing something about it," she said.

"Programs such as a Healthy Corner Store Initiative and Healthy Food Financing improve availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy foods at food retailers within areas of poor food access. This approach would not only remove a barrier to healthy eating, but also create new business opportunities. If the focus also includes healthy foods grown and/or produced in North Carolina, the state could realize a triple win in terms of health, economic growth and community revitalization," said Jacobson.

The poll also found:

· More than 90 percent of registered North Carolina voters recognize childhood obesity and unhealthy eating as a serious problem
· Seventy-six percent of registered North Carolina voters favor state and local governments providing training and incentives to encourage corner store owners to stock and sell more healthy foods and beverages
· One half (50 percent) of registered voters view access to grocery stores in low to moderate income areas in both urban and rural communities as a serious or somewhat serious problem
· The fact that healthy foods are not affordable was identified as the most significant barrier to improving access to healthy foods in both urban and rural areas
· Lack of nutritional education and poor economic conditions were identified as significant barriers to healthy eating

Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, certain kinds of cancer, obesity and diet-related diseases disproportionately impact communities without access to healthy foods. People living in such communities—known as food deserts—often shop for food at corner stores, which commonly sell highly processed foods that are high in fat and low in nutrients. In fact, youth who live near convenience stores have higher Body Mass Indices (BMIs) and consume more sugary drinks than their peers who live closer to full-service grocery stores. Additionally, one study published in Pediatrics showed that more than 40 percent of elementary school students shopped at a corner store twice daily, often purchasing chips, candy, and soda.

"I was particularly pleased that once those being polled learned more about the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, the support level jumped to 76 percent. This clearly shows North Carolinians are ready for action," said Jacobson.

The American Heart Association is working with the NC Alliance for Health to promote a healthy corner store statewide initiative.

For more information about the poll:

o Poll  Executive Summary

o Poll information packet

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Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo Speaks at Go Red for Women Luncheon

The American Heart Association was thrilled that Governor Gina Raimondo could join us for the recent Go Red for Women Luncheon at the Rhode Island Convention Center.  Nearly 600 women and men dressed in red to help raise awareness that heart disease is the number one killer of women.  Governor Raimondo’s remarks were the perfect kick-off for the event – and she even took some extra time to pose for photos with some of our young guests!

Click the following link to view Governor Raimondo's remarks: http://youtu.be/QyZBMef9E54

Below, Advocate and American Heart Association National Go Red For Women Spokeswoman, Lisa Deck and daughter Kaitlyn, had the pleasure of meeting Governor Raimondo during the luncheon program. Lisa and Kaitlyn presented her with flowers to thank her for her attendance and for speaking about the importance of heart-healthy lifestyle and funding lifesaving research.

 Governor Raimondo with 11 year old Megan Dickerman, congenital heart disease survivor. Megan was featured during the speaking program with her father, Daniel who was also born with the very same heart defect.

Governor Raimondo with 10 year old Gustavo Londono. Gustavo’s Nana, Debra Koziol is one of the American Heart Association’s National Go Red For Women Spokeswoman after suffering sudden cardiac arrest in her home about 7 years ago. Gustavo was there that night and recalls how quickly his Papa called 911 and performed CPR to save her life. Gustavo shared with the audience his inspirational message to live a healthier life and to keep your heart strong.

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Thank you, Council Member Crowley!

Following up on the recent introduction of our PE Reporting bill in New York City, Council Member Crowley took to the TV to help advocate for her proposal.  Check out the link here:  http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/inside-city-hall/2015/02/19/ny1-online--queens-councilwoman-discusses-efforts-to-get-more-info-on-phys-ed-in-nyc-schools.html

Thank you, Council Member Crowley, for sharing our message and promoting the need for improved physical education in NYC!

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Dr. Stephen Leffler & the University of Vermont Medical Center Support a Tax to Reduce Obesity and Health Care Costs

The University of Vermont Medical Center has been outstanding in its support of a two cent per ounce excise tax on sugary drinks to reduce obesity in Vermont. Stephen Leffler, the Chief Medical Officer for the hospital, has been a tireless advocate testifying before a legislative committee, speaking at a press conference launching the campaign and recently posting the following on the Medical Center's blog.

Why We Support a Tax on Sugary Beverages

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Montpelier and advocate for a tax on sugary drinks. You might wonder why a physician would get involved in a tax debate? It’s simple. It’s because sugary drinks are a significant health concern for Vermonters.

Obesity and diabetes are major health issues for Vermonters and our country. Sugary drinks are linked to both conditions. The future of health care is partnering with and engaging our patients to keep them as healthy as possible. We know that the long-term health of our patients is influenced more by their actions and choices during daily life, versus what happens when they’re in our exam rooms. Patients who make good choices in terms of smoking, exercise and diet will live longer and healthier lives and consume less health care resources. That is how you drive down health care costs.

Public policies can be powerful tools to aide in these efforts. Policies, such as taxes, can help our patients make better, healthier choices. Cigarette taxes have proven this. As the cigarette tax has increased, smoking rates have dropped. Would any of us consider turning the clock back on that and go back to the days when nearly 40 percent of us were smoking $2 packs of cigarettes? If a 1-liter soda costs more than a pint of milk or water, more people will make the healthier choice. Why does that matter? Because sugary drinks are a major factor in obesity. Researchers estimate that sugar-added drinks account for at least one-fifth of the weight gained by the U.S. population between 1977 and 2007.

Consumption of sugary drinks is the single largest category of caloric intake for U.S. children, surpassing milk in the late 1990s. Think about that for a second. Sugary drinks account for more calories than fruits, vegetables, dairy products and healthy protein sources. Increasing the cost of sodas and energy drinks will help people make better choices. They will likely consume healthier, cheaper alternatives.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with an occasional soda. It should be a treat. Like having an ice cream cone. Today, many people do not think of a soda like a treat. Most people trying to eat a healthy diet would not have six ice cream cones a day but may not think twice about drinking a six pack of soda. That could be more than 1,000 empty calories with no nutritional benefits.

I grew up in a small town in Vermont and my parents owned a general store. I spent many hours of my life stocking coolers with sodas, milk, water and so on. I witnessed Vermonters making choices about what to buy every day. They were smart with their money. Making sugary drinks more expensive will help them be even smarter with their money and their health.

What’s more, the money raised from a sugary beverages tax can be used to help teach Vermonters and their children how to eat healthier, and actually make more nutritious foods more easily available. For example, we could direct funds to expand the impact of food access programs like Vermont Farm to Family, NOFA Vermont’s Farm Share program, Green Mountain Farm to School, and Vermont FEED – not to mention new programs. Revenue could also be used to offset the increased costs incurred from obesity. I firmly believe this tax is the right thing for our patients and our state.

Stephen M. Leffler, MD, FACEP, is the Chief Medical Officer at the UVM Medical Center, former Medical Director of the Emergency Department, and has been a practicing physician for 20 years. He is also a Professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He grew up in Brandon, Vermont.

Sources

Block G. Foods contributing to energy intake in the US: Data from NHANES III and NHANES 1999–2000. J Food Comp Anal 17 (2004): 439-47.

Woodward-Lopez*, Janice Kao and Lorrene Ritchie, To what extent have sweetened beverages contributed
to the obesity epidemic? Public Health Nutrition p. 4 (2010)

Malik, et al., DIABETES CARE, VOLUME 33, NUMBER 11, NOVEMBER 2010

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Getting Some Traction on the Sugary Drink Tax!

Legislators left Montpelier for their March break with interest hanging on the sugary drink tax. The House Health Care Committee took testimony on the tax as a possible source of revenue for health care reform measures and will likely vote on the tax when they return on March 10th. Read more here. http://digital.vpr.net/post/house-committee-eyes-soda-tax-health-care-reforms 

The House Ways and Means Committee will also focus on the tax with a hearing slated for March 11th.  Lawmakers are looking at closing a $112 million budget gap and with a list of $29 million in potential budget cuts presented recently, some lawmakers are also interested in new sources of revenue.  

The American Heart Association and the Alliance for a Healthier Vermont want to implement a 2 cent per ounce excise tax on sugary drinks to reduce consumption of sugary drinks and use a portion of the revenue for obesity prevention efforts and greater access to health care for underserved Vermonters. 

A new poll released by VTDigger shows Vermonters agree. 57% said they would support a tax on sugary drinks to fund health care for low income Vermonters. Editors from newspapers across Vermont also agree it makes sense. The St Albans Messenger, Addison Independent, Rutland Herald, Times Argus, Brattleboro Reformer and County Courier have all written editorials urging lawmakers to pass the tax this session. Check out the following editorial! http://www.reformer.com/opinion/ci_27585726/our-opinion-sugary-drinks-tax-heck-out-them 

With both obesity rates and health care costs climbing, the sugary drink tax should be a priority for Vermont lawmakers. 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health notes in its State of Obesity report for Vermont that Vermont’s current 38,031 cases of heart disease could sky-rocket to 190,617 by 2030 if we continue on our current trend. A two cent tax on sugary drinks and a commitment to prevention makes more sense to us. 

Urge Vermont lawmakers to support prevention efforts such as this to reduce chronic diseases in Vermont. Click on the following to take action:

https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/actioncenter.aspx 

And help us spread the word by “liking” the Alliance for a Healthier Vermont Facebook page and sharing the benefits about a sugary drink tax on your social media today!

https://www.facebook.com/HealthierVT

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Cutting Funding for Tobacco Prevention is a Step Backwards

Despite the historic successes of Vermont’s tobacco control program, tobacco use is still the number one preventable cause of death and disease. While we’ve made great headway, there is more work that needs to be done and the program is at risk. 

The Governor’s proposed budget would cut nearly $245,000 this coming year, reducing funds to the health department and eliminating funding for the independent Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board. 

This cut in prevention funding will only move Vermont backwards in the state’s efforts to control skyrocketing healthcare costs. Vermont currently spends $348 million each year on tobacco-attributable health care expenses.

Tobacco use still claims the lives of 1,000 Vermonters annually.  400 children become new daily smokers each year and 10,000 Vermont children currently alive today will die prematurely from smoking. We have populations where smoking rates are high – over 20% of Vermont’s college-age youth smoke and smoking rates for those with low incomes or serious mental illness are at or above 30%.

Help us urge Vermont lawmakers and the Governor to maintain funding for the tobacco program to reduce these numbers and support a significant increase in the tobacco tax – proven measures that will reduce smoking in Vermont. Click the link below to take action today!

https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/actioncenter.aspx

 

 

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Rhonda Hall, Massachusetts

Eight years ago, Rhonda Hall was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and soon after that, she was diagnosed with diabetes. In just one day, she became a four shot-a-day diabetic and had high cholesterol and hypertension as well. Rhonda explained that it was an extremely tough time, but despite the challenges she eventually started working out every day and joined an organization to help her get her eating habits back on the right track. Rhonda has now lost 100 pounds over the past year and because of her lifestyle change, she is no longer an insulin-dependent or medicine-dependent diabetic. She has cut her hypertension and high cholesterol medicine in half and is doing everything that she can to let people know that they can do it too. “Many people in my family are diabetic and when we talk about our family history, we think that that’s the end of the story, and it doesn’t have to be,” explained Hall. "I don’t care what my history says, because my history says I should still be on 4 shots a day, but my determination says no more.” Rhonda was named a 2014-2015 National Go Red Real Woman. Rhonda continues to share her story and helps let all women know that through simple changes, everybody has an opportunity to get healthy.

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Diana Cook, North Carolina

Diana Cook, North Carolina

As a veteran volunteer with the American Heart Association, Diana Cook has been involved in a myriad of ways with the organization over the years. As a Charlotte Heart Walk team leader, she led her work team several years in a row – and every year provided countless volunteers to help with the walk. As a You’re the Cure Advocate, and as a NC Advocacy Coordinating Committee member, she has volunteered for countless National and State Lobby Days, trainings, and advocacy opportunities.

There is more to Diana than just her volunteerism. She has experience personal loss at the hands of cardiovascular disease and stroke. After losing her father to emphysema, then a dear friend who had just turned 40 passed away due to a sudden stroke two weeks later, she spent a long time of wondering why her friend’s symptoms had gone misdiagnosed. Diana connected with Betsy Vetter and found her passion with AHA and a home with You’re the Cure. As her work with YTC began, Diana was able to join the Smoke-Free Mecklenburg team as a co-chair, and worked with that initiative promoting smoke-free both locally and then at the state level. It was her friend, and her father, who kept Diana engaged with the American Heart Association and kept her inspired to make a difference.

If you were to ask Diana why she volunteers with the AHA, she would tell you that beginning with her Heart Walk experience and including her time as an advocate with You’re the Cure, her experience has become personal. "Advocacy was the "rescue," if you will, that I needed during a traumatic time after my Dad and best friend died," she says. "It helped me to put my energy into something positive that honored them at the same time.  The experience was effecting a positive change for our state of North Carolina to get smoke free restaurants passed and providing vital information to women on heart and stroke disease."

It is advocates like Diana, who join us in You’re the Cure and see what an infinite difference they make in the lives of those around them, that make our network as strong and as passionate as it is. Thank you to Diana, and to all of our advocates, for making a difference and saving lives.

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Pennsylvania Lobby Day Scheduled For April 20, 2015

Make plans to join us on Monday, April 20th as we gather at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, PA to meet with lawmakers to talk about important public policies to help reverse the effects of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Advocates from across PA will meet with their legislators to advocate support for strengthening the Clean Indoor Air law to include NO exemptions and reducing smoking rates by increasing the tobacco excise tax. We'll give you the tools and the resources - all you have to do is show up! 

REGISTER HERE

 Schedule of Events

8:30-9:00am:            Registration  (Continental Breakfast available from 8-9am)
9:00-10:00am:          Issue Briefings
10:00-10:20am:        Press Conference (Main Rotunda)
10:20-10:30am:        Group Photo (Main Rotunda Steps)
10:30am-12:00pm:   Legislative Meetings (Member Offices)

Directions to the PA State Capitol

Downtown Harrisburg Parking (Walnut Street Garage is recommended for parking)

If you would like additional information or have questions, please contact:

Kim Ross at (717) 730-1706 or kim.ross@heart.org

David Greineder at (717) 730-1751 or david.greineder@heart.org

Melissa Brown at melissa.brown@heart.org 

 

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Imagine!

Christina Bryan, You’re the Cure advocate, recently shared some words of wisdom with us, "My parents, life-long chain smokers, died prematurely as a direct result of their smoking addiction.  As a heart attack survivor, I have never smoked and advise current smokers to quit immediately and non-smokers to never start.  Don't put yourself in harm's way."

On Wednesday, February 25 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our state’s smoke-free law. As advocates we are building a healthier world.

Yet cigarette smoking continues to be the leading preventable risk factor for chronic disease. Did you know that overall tobacco use among North Carolina high school students increased from 25.8% to 29.7% between 2011 and 2013? During that same time period, the use of electronic cigarettes by North Carolina high school students increased 352%, from 1.7% to 7.7%. These statistics are going in the wrong direction.

Now imagine having a generation of kids that don’t become addicted to tobacco.

Tell your lawmakers to support funding for tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs.

In the last 50 years, 20 million Americans have died prematurely due to tobacco-caused illnesses. Currently North Carolina provides no state funding for tobacco use prevention and only $1.2 million for QuitlineNC.

We need your help to urge our lawmakers to fund tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs.

What do you IMAGINE for North Carolina’s tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs?

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