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Health Challenge for Minnesota Families Starts in September

The Minnesota News Connection posted an article today on the Life Is Why Family Health Challenge!

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The number of children who are overweight or obese in Minnesota has been swelling for decades, but a month-long event starting Tuesday aims to gain some traction in reversing that trend.

The Life is Why Family Health Challenge is broken down into four themed weeks. American Heart Association volunteer Carrie McLeod says the first component is focused on the foods people buy at the grocery store and is called My Cart is Why.

"Which helps your family to understand the importance of fruits and vegetables and has some fun, easy activities for the children to take part it," she explains. "So that it can really be a fun thing and not an 'Oh, gosh, you have to eat your broccoli' kind of thing." Continue reading here

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Congress Takes a Break – Advocates Take Action!

Each year during August, Congress goes into recess and lawmakers return to their districts.  This is a great opportunity for advocates to take action locally!  You’re the Cure advocates have been out visiting offices and providing important information about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA). 

On August 17th, Dr. Joey Skelton and Brenner FIT hosted a healthy cooking demonstration and discussion about the importance of healthy eating with Nick Wilkinson, Triad Regional Representative for Senator Thom Tillis.  Gretta King, daughter of You’re the Cure advocate Valerie King and Mr. Wilkinson put their culinary skills to the test and created a heart-healthy breakfast for the group.  What a great opportunity to talk about the consequences of obesity in children, the importance of nutrition standards for school meals, the role of nutrition in our overall health. 

The HHFKA has given America’s children access to healthier food options for breakfast, lunch, and throughout the school day.  Strong nutrition standards help provide a balanced diet so kids can grow and learn in the healthiest possible way.  Thanks to the HHKA students are eating 16% more vegetables and 23% more fruits. 

You’re the Cure advocates nationwide are out delivering a clear message to our members of Congress this August as our kids go back to school:  “We Can’t Go Back!”  We need to protect strong school nutrition standards enacted by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act and reject any effort to go back to school meals loaded with salt, fat, and sugar.

You can help, too.  Step up to the plate with us in support of strong school nutrition standards and take action here

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Help Make The Healthy Choice, The Easy Choice in Austin!

With your help, a fresh and healthy choice is right around the corner. 

To grow up healthy, children and their families need many things in their communities. One thing is a store selling fresh fruits and vegetables.

Did you know, 14% of Texans - that's 3.4 million people! - live in neighborhoods lacking healthy food options? Some of those areas are right here in Austin.

Five City of Austin ZIP codes are without a grocery store, limiting families' access to healthy and fresh food.

This takes a toll on the city's health. Only 30 percent of Greater Austin residents meet the recommended daily allowance of fruit and vegetables, and the obesity rate within Greater Austin is 25 percent.

What's in store for people with limited access to healthy fruits and vegetables? A higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Do you support increased access to fresh, healthy food for Austin neighborhoods?

Join the #MoreAtMyStore movement today!

 

Add your name to show your support. You'll also receive notices of opportunities to take action in your community, to help make the healthy choice the easy choice in Austin neighborhoods.

We believe healthy living in Austin is right around the corner.

 

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What is the state of obesity in Austin?

Austin is known for being fit. We jog Lady Bird Lake, swim Barton Springs, and snack on healthy bites. Austin has a healthy reputation that can't be beat. But did you know that 39 percent of Austin-area adults are overweight, and another 21 percent are obese? Our children are affected too: nearly 1 in 4 fourth graders, 1 in 5 eighth graders, and 1 in 5 eleventh graders in the Austin area have obesity.

How is childhood obesity affected by access to healthy foods?

To grow up healthy, children and their families need many things in their communities. One thing is a store selling fresh fruits and vegetables. Did you know, 14% of Texans - that's 3.4 million people! - live in neighborhoods lacking healthy food options? Some of those areas are right here in Austin. Five City of Austin ZIP codes (78617, 78653, 78721, 78725, 78744) are without a grocery store, limiting families' access to healthy and fresh food.

This takes a toll on the city's health. Only 30 percent of Greater Austin residents meet the recommended daily allowance of fruit and vegetables, and the obesity rate within Greater Austin is 25 percent. What's in store for people with limited access to healthy fruits and vegetables? A higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Do you support increased access to fresh, healthy food for Austin neighborhoods?

Join the #MoreAtMyStore movement today! Add your name to show your support. You'll also receive notices of opportunities to take action in your community, to help make the healthy choice the easy choice in Austin neighborhoods.

We believe healthy living in Austin is right around the corner.

 

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Advocate Spotlight: Gloria Hobbs, Ohio

For many years, Gloria Hobbs lived with her husband on the south side of Youngstown, where there was a grocery store a few blocks away. Unfortunately, the passing of Gloria’s husband and the economic downtown precipitated many changes in her life.  She now lives in subsidized senior housing downtown and is no longer able to drive, which unfortunately means she no longer has convenient access to a grocery store. 

For Gloria and the 300 other seniors living in the complex, a trip to the store now entails four buses. It also changes what they can buy. “Going by bus, I can only carry two, maybe three grocery bags,” Gloria said.

Some seniors opt to avoid the walk to the bus stop and waiting in the cold, heat and rain, by taking senior rides to the store.  While the senior housing will subsidize these and it allows for more than a few bags of groceries, Gloria’s neighbors have shared that it still costs between $10 and $20 per ride.  This is a substantial amount when living on a fixed income.  

“My only choice downtown is to get food at the convenience store around the corner. They don’t sell greens or meat. They do sell apples, oranges, bananas, and potatoes, at twice the rate of a grocery store. Seniors on fixed income can’t afford to pay twice the going rate for healthy foods,” Gloria shared.  She believes since moving downtown, her health has deteriorated in ways related to lack of items for a healthy diet.

Gloria supports efforts to make a change. She believes development of an Ohio Healthy Food Financing program will positively impact Ohioans who live in areas like hers, that currently do not have a grocery store. Learn more about Healthy Food Financing efforts and how we can all help.

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Join the #MoreAtMyStore Movement Today!

Did you know that 3.4 million Texans live in areas where it is difficult to buy fresh and healthy food? Some of those areas are right here in Austin.

This means that for many, their local corner store, which often carries only highly processed or unhealthy food, may be their only option. Texas's obesity epidemic affects both children and adults, and multiple solutions are needed to address this complex issue. One important way to improve the health of everyone is to bring healthy, fresh food to communities. Or, as we like to say, #MoreAtMyStore!

YOU can help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Show your local leaders why you support #MoreAtMyStore.

Together we can help all Austinites find healthier food closer to home!

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Oregon 2015 Legislative Session Wrap Up

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham

When our state leaders head to the capitol for the six month legislative session, they have a lot on their minds—not the least of which is the health of Oregonians. It’s the job of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and our allies in public health to ensure that decision makers know the most effective ways to improve the health of all Oregonians, and how to protect them from Oregon’s number one cause of death, cardiovascular disease, and our number one cause of preventable disability, stroke.

Oregon’s 2015 Legislative Session was a busy one for the AHA and our advocates. Here are the highlights:

  • CPR in Schools Passes: The AHA and a team of remarkable advocates led the charge to make Oregon the 23rd state to pass CPR in Schools legislation. Thanks to Senate Bill 79, all Oregon students will be trained in CPR before graduating, ultimately adding over 45,000 new lifesavers across every Oregon community. Thanks to all of the Oregon Legislature for unanimously supporting CPR in Schools, and a special thanks to Sen. Arnie Roblan, Sen. Mark Hass, Rep. Carla Piluso, Rep. Margaret Doherty, and Rep. Jeff Reardon for their leadership.
  • Improvements for Oregon’s School Food: The AHA supported continuing Oregon’s legacy as a leader in school nutrition by aligning our state’s school nutrition standards with the updated federal guidelines. House Bill 2404 will help ensure kids get the healthy food they need for a healthy future.
  • Funding for Tobacco Prevention: We helped to protect $4 million for fighting the harms of tobacco in Oregon. Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death in Oregon, and our tobacco prevention programs have been effective at reducing consumption.
  • Funding for Physical Education: We helped to protect $4 million for PE in schools that will help schools hire teachers and get more active minutes into their day. This generation of kids is the most inactive in history, and it’s more important than ever that schools support healthy active living.
  • Increasing Access to Health Care: We helped pass a bill, House Bill 2468, that will put Oregon’s Insurance Division to work trying to make insurance plans more transparent and to help consumers access the care they need when they need it.

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Every child in Utah deserves a safe route to school

Guest blogger – Kelsey Hamstead

Many of my young school memories involve waking up early to catch the bus to school.  I remember being so excited when I no longer needed to ride the bus, but instead I would be able to walk to the school near our house. However, my excitement quickly dwindled when I realized I would have to cross the busy street between my neighborhood and the school. It was a busy and wide street that only had a crossing guard stationed during certain times of the morning. I began dreading the walk to school and frequently begged my parents to drive me the two minutes across the street because I felt unsafe.

Today I attend Brigham Young University, and I still walk to school. I notice many of the same dangers here in Provo as I did back home in Georgia. Things like: lack of or discontinuous sidewalks, wide and busy roads with no crossing guard or lack of a crossing aid. When my Professor announced to my class that we would be assisting the American Heart Association with a project to promote safe routes to school, I was immediately interested.

Our class of about 20 undergraduate students were split into teams and then assigned school districts around Utah Valley. We split up the schools in our districts among our team members in a divide and conquer type of approach. Each of us then set off to the schools to collect data on the relative safety of the walking paths to the schools. One of the schools I visited was Franklin Elementary. The first thing I noticed when I arrived was the very busy intersection on the northwest side of the school. I had arrived as school was getting out and there were crowds of kids eager to get home. In talking with the crossing guard stationed at this particular intersection, I discovered that there had been many near accidents. Her suggestion was to have another stop sign put in at the intersection to help the traffic move more smoothly and to keep drivers from speeding by the school.

In talking with moms who had come to the school to walk home with their children, they told me they would love for their kids to be able to walk to and from school on their own, but they felt the roads were too dangerous. However, they wanted their children to continue getting the exercise from walking to and from school so they now walk with their kids in order to ensure their safety. Some other worries included a crosswalk light being out of order at times and the lack of safe sidewalks.

When my team came back together we were surprised to see that we had all gathered very similar data on the same type of problems. Together we constructed a plan and presented our findings at the American Heart Association Lobby Day this past January. Later in April we invited representatives and school board faculty to come and listen to our proposals. As an undergraduate student, alongside the American Heart Association I feel passionate about this topic and we received great feedback from those who came to hear us.

My experience working on this project has taught me that anyone can make a difference.

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Kids Cook With Heart

Kids Cook With Heart is an exciting new program aimed at teaching middle-school aged children how fun it can be to cook and eat healthy. This program was piloted in our state last year and is now in its second year.

Over the past 30 years childhood obesity has more than tripled, placing children at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. In order to fight the onset of obesity among children, the American Heart Association developed the Kids Cook With Heart program. Studies show that youth who are involved in preparing their own meals are more likely to eat nutrient rich foods and more fruits and vegetables.

Kids Cook With Heart is a 6-week program designed to teach students the basic skills required to prepare their own meals at home, as well as the information they need to make healthier choices.  The classes, taught by AHA volunteers with backgrounds in cooking and nutrition, are fun and educational. They’re also proving to be effective, with participants showing an average of a 25% improvement in the following measures:

  • Increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables
  • Decreasing high sugar beverages
  • Increasing comfort level in at-home meal preparation

If you are interested in bringing this program to your student group or have questions, please email Cherish Hart at cherish.hart@heart.org.

Watch this short video to see the program in action. http://bcove.me/a8etya7p

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Get Ready to Move PHX!

Phoenix Proposition 104, also known as Move PHX, is a comprehensive transportation plan that will expand light rail and bus services and will improve our streets to the benefit of everyone who drives, walks or bikes around Phoenix. This is a unique opportunity for Phoenix to integrate health considerations within community expansion designs to improve Phoenix’s walkability and bike-ability, but Prop 104 needs your vote!

If you haven’t yet, register to vote here or find your voting location here.

If you are interested in voting early, answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.  To find early voting locations, please visit here

In summary, Move PHX (Prop 104) will do the following:

  • Pave 1,080 miles of new bike lanes and improve existing bike infrastructure
  • Pave 135 miles of new sidewalks
  • Triple the number of miles covered by light rail
  • Create more shaded structures at bus stops and Park-and-Ride locations
  • Extend hours of operation for public transportation systems like bus service and Dial-A-Ride service and RAPID service
  • Fund up to $240 million on new roads, upgraded bridges, and place 2,000 new street lights on existing roads

 For more details, please visit here.

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