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Dr. Barb Frankowski tells lawmakers that a sugary drink tax could make the healthy choice the easy choice!

Warning that sippy cups were one of the worst inventions ever created, Vermont pediatrician Dr. Barb Frankowski recently urged House Ways and Means Committee members to take action to tax sugary drinks to fight obesity and improve dental health.

A portion of her testimony is excerpted below:

What do I see in my office?  Children drinking sugary beverages almost all the time.  I see it in the baby’s bottles and in the toddlers’ sippy cups.  Children and adolescents come in toting 20 ounce containers of everything from colas to sweetened iced teas to Gatorade.  How have we become such a thirsty nation?

Of course, the obesity epidemic is extremely complicated, and we can’t blame it all on sugary beverages.  BUT – sugary beverages do play an extremely significant role. 

Here are some facts:

  • Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages has increased 500% in the past 50 years, and is not the single largest category of caloric intake in children, surpassing milk in the late 1990s
  • A person who drinks one can (only 12 oz) of soda a day would gain 15 lbs in a year
  • Pure liquid sugar also does not “fill us up” or induce satiety, the same way that fast food (that also contains fat and protein) does. These empty calories do not make us feel full.  Therefore, there is inadequate calorie compensation - people are more likely to drink these extra calories in addition to other foods they are eating, rather than instead of these foods.

What is the burden of obesity from the medical point of view?  Well, we all know about diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  I do see some diabetes and hypertension in my pediatric practice.  But what do I see even more? I see kids who are depressed, I see kids who are bullied at school, I see kids who are truant from school because of the bullying and - they don’t want to participate in PE!

What does the research show?

  • Children who become overweight as preschoolers tend to stay overweight throughout childhood and into adolescents.  Overweight and obese adolescents tend to remain obese as adults.  Preventing obesity can be difficult, but it is MUCH easier than treating it!
  • Studies suggest that a 10% price increase for beverages through taxation would decrease consumption by about 8-10%

Why not just educate people?

  • There is NOTHING in soda that is good for you.  Do people think there is?
  • Smoking is bad for you – are there people who think it is good for them?
  • Health education and behavior change is complex – it works much better to make the healthier choice the easier (and more economical) choice.

 

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Urge Senators to Lift the Cap on Charitable Donations!

Please tell Senate Finance Committee members that limiting the amount of funds non-profit organizations can raise in Vermont to fund their missions is the wrong way to raise revenue.

The Vermont House has passed legislation that would cap itemized deductions at 2.5 percent of the state standard deduction ($15,500/individual; $31,000/couple). The bill, which reportedly raises $33.2 million, is now before the Senate Finance Committee. Please contact members of the Senate finance Committee at http://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2016/25 and tell them that such a cap could have an adverse effect on the good work the AHA is doing in Vermont.

In a response to Vermont’s non-profit community recently Senate Finance Committee Chair Tim Ashe stated the following, “…one thing is clear – Vermont’s tax system is in need of change. We currently tax the things that are not growing, and we do not tax the things that are growing. I am in no jag whatsoever to merely raise new taxes to “get us through this year.” We really do need a long-term approach so that both government and our non-profit partners have stable funding for planning and operational purposes.”

We agree. Please tell committee members that implementing excise taxes on tobacco and sugary drinks could raise significant revenue for the state but more importantly, deter unhealthy behaviors that lead to diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer that are costing the state millions.

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Spending Half a Billion on Chronic Diseases - Reason Enough to Tax Cigarettes and Sugary Drinks?

As legislators currently weigh options to fund health care priorities in Vermont, it makes sense to look at funding sources that target health care problems.

Vermont is spending a half a billion dollars each year treating chronic diseases caused by obesity and tobacco – half a billion! While legislative money committees are charged with raising revenue to meet state fiscal needs, they are also charged with doing what’s in the best interest of Vermonters, and that means doing what’s most helpful for the long-term as well.

Science shows a 10% increase in the price of tobacco and sugary drinks would have a public health benefit, decreasing adult smoking by 3-5%, youth smoking by 7% and sugary drink consumption by 8%.

No other revenue option on the table would have as substantial a health impact. The closer we can get to a $1 tax on tobacco and a penny an ounce on sugary drinks, the bigger the health impact for Vermonters.

Let your legislators know financial decisions should not be based solely on balancing the budget but also on making wise decisions that will serve the public best now, and our children for years to come.

Contact your legislator at http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/search/2016 or call them at 1-800-322-5616 and urge them to support significant cigarette and sugary drink excise taxes to help reduce the burden of chronic disease in Vermont.

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The Open Truth Campaign

The Open Truth campaign is a youth-focused effort to highlight the health impacts of sugary drinks and expose precision marketing practices that target young people and communities of color. The multimedia campaign includes videos created by Bay Area youth from The Bigger Picture Campaign. The youth videos and other features of the Open Truth campaign are at www.opentruthnow.org.

Almost one-quarter of teens today have pre-diabetes – double the rate of just 10 years ago. One in three youth born in the U.S. after the year 2000 will get type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes (1 in 2 African American and Latino youth) along with some or all of its major health consequences including stroke, kidney failure, amputations and blindness. 

A major cause of this epidemic is the consumption of sugary drinks. Just one 12-ounce soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar — more than the AHA recommended daily maximum for adults and 3 times the recommended maximum for kids. Studies show that drinking just one 12-oz can of soda per day can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by nearly one-third and can lead to significant increased risk of diabetes, tooth decay and other health problems.

Studies show that sugary drink companies spend more than $28 million a year on marketing campaigns specifically targeting youth of color. Through the Open Truth campaign, Bay Area youth are talking back to the sugary drinks industry, demanding the truth about the negative health effects of sugary drinks and an end to marketing tactics that target them.

The Open Truth campaign aims to:

  1. Increase awareness about how sugary drinks are making us sick;
  2. Expose the tactics of the sugary drinks industry, which targets young people, parents, and communities of color in order to increase profits and brand loyalty; and
  3. Inspire policy changes that will increase access to healthy drinks, limit marketing to kids, educate consumers, and provide funds for sugary drink education.

The Open Truth Campaign is a collaboration between the Shape Up San Francisco (project of the Population Health Division of the SFDPH) and The Bigger Picture (Youth Speaks and Center for Vulnerable Populations/UCSF), Alameda County Department of Public Health, Sonoma County Department of Health Services, and the American Heart Association.

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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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How Heartsafe Is Your Town?

New Hampshire’s Heartsafe Communities grew in number this year to 22 cities and towns which have taken action to strengthen their chain of survival from cardiac arrest. A Heartsafe Community is one that has taken steps to develop and implement a lifesaving network by coordinating local resources to prevent sudden cardiac arrest from becoming sudden cardiac death.

With more lay-rescuers trained and ready to give CPR immediately, and with more automated external defibrillators (AED) placed in public places, as well as first responders equipped and ready to use AEDs when they arrive on the scene, we can double or even triple the survival rate from cardiac arrest. New Hampshire’s HeartSafe Communities now include Manchester, Derry, Milford, Lyme, Hampton, Chester, Concord, Goffstown, Henniker, Hudson, Keene, Lancaster, Lincoln, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Rochester, Swanzey, Walpole, Woodstock, Laconia, Bedford and Enfield NH.

A Community is designated "Heartsafe" by the NH Bureau of EMS and the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health. The community earns ‘heartbeat’ points for the number of CPR trained residents and AED placement. Training all students in CPR would be included in reaching the Community CPR points. Is your community ready to be "Heartsafe"?

http://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/fstems/ems/defibrillators/heart_safe.html

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Kids can't eat healthy foods if they don't have a healthy choice…

Did you know low-income neighborhoods have 50 percent fewer supermarkets than the wealthiest neighborhoods? 

For millions of people around the country—many of them kids—the fast choice is the only choice when it comes to food.  But things don’t have to be this way.  Healthy food financing initiatives can help...and everyone should have easy access to the fresh, healthy food our bodies need to stay well. 

In New York State, six out of ten adults are considered overweight or obese.  That’s 8.5 million New Yorkers that are struggling!  The state's Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund can help communities across New York by providing the funding needed to create supermarkets and mobile markets. 

Providing healthy food, creating jobs and revitalizing the economy...now that sounds like a win for kids and families!

You can help bring healthy food to communities across New York, create jobs and revitalize NY’s economy too—by speaking out in support of  the state's Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund. 

Let's help give kids and families a healthy choice.

 

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New maps provide insight on access to supermarkets in New York State

For millions of people around the country—many of them children—the fast choice is the only choice when it comes to food.  Newly created maps paint a picture of the problem.  View below to see maps outlining supermarket sales and income data in New York State.  Additional blog posts on yourethecure.org outline supermarket sales and income in New York City, Syracuse and Buffalo.

 

 

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Help us Take 5 for the Pledge

Thank you for your continued support of the American Heart Association’s lifesaving mission.

Recently, we developed a full and robust campaign to help us drive sodium awareness and reduction efforts, featuring the tagline: “I love you Salt, but you’re breaking my heart.”

The goals of the campaign are:

  • increase awareness of how much sodium we eat and the impact excess sodium has on our health
  • build a base of supporters who will actively engage with decision makers to effect policy changes that reduce sodium in the food supply
  • inspire behavior changes to reduce the amount of sodium people eat

The American Heart Association’s goal is to build a movement to change America’s relationship with salt. We ask that you take the pledge to reduce your sodium consumption.  We plan to use these pledges to urge the FDA and food manufacturers to reduce sodium in the food supply. Why the food supply? Currently, the average American consumes more than twice as much sodium than the American Heart Association recommends, and nearly 80 percent of it is coming from pre-packaged and restaurant foods. Plus, when you take the pledge, you will receive information, tools and tips as to how you can personally reduce your sodium intake – break up with salt and save your heart a potential lifetime of heartache! 

We need your help in extending our reach significantly beyond our current base of supporters.

To do this, we set up a simple “Take 5 for the Pledge” process for you to follow:

Visit the website: www.sodiumbreakup.heart.org/pledge

  • Take the pledge
  • Send an email to 5 of your friends, family members or contacts and ask them to take the pledge

Please email Cherish Hart at Cherish.Hart@heart.org or Josh Brown at Josh.Brown@heart.org if you have any questions or need additional information. I truly appreciate you taking the time to help drive our sodium awareness efforts. Together, we can make a difference.

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