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In North Dakota, Every Bill Gets a Vote

While the North Dakota legislature only meets every other year and for only 80 days, there is no shortage of work that gets done, and every bill that is introduced gets voted on unless it is withdrawn.  That's a lot of legislation that is discussed in Bismarck every two years.  Last year, 900 bills were introduced during the legislative session, and all bills that were not withdrawn got votes and over half were passed and signed into law.  Nationally, only 5 percent of the 11,000 bills that were proposed during the current term got a vote, and only 2 percent were signed into law by the President.  For more information about on this story about our citizen legislature, CLICK HERE

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For Kids, What is Ideal Heart Health?

The road to cardiovascular disease begins in childhood, and it’s a road many American children are on, based on a new report from the American Heart Association that indicates very few kids meet all the criteria for ideal heart health.

Many are overweight or obese. Others don’t get enough exercise or have picked up smoking. But the biggest disqualifying factor was diet: Less than 1 percent of children ages 2 to 19 meet the criteria for an ideal diet, according to federal data from 2007 to 2008.

That troubling reality led the AHA to issue Thursday’s scientific statement that provides the first detailed look at ideal heart health for kids: no tobacco use, a healthy weight, at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, a healthy diet score and normal blood pressure, total cholesterol and blood sugar.

Pediatric cardiologist Thomas R. Kimball, M.D., was “shocked” when he heard so few U.S. children meet all seven criteria for ideal heart health.

For more on this story, CLICK HERE. 

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The Jig is Up on Added Sugar

ICYMI - which means "in case you missed it" ... new scientific evidence reveals the dangers of too much sugar for our kids.  New recommendations by the American Heart Association are as follows:  Experts recommend that children ages 2-18 consumer less than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day.  Also recommended is limiting sugary beverage consumption to no more than one 8 ounce serving per week.  The recommendations also advise that children under the age of two should not consumer any foods and beverages with added sugars. 

According to the statement by the AHA, eating foods high in added sugars throughout childhood is linked to the development of risk factors for heart disease, such as an increased risk of obesity and elevated blood pressure in children and young adults.

“Children who eat foods loaded with added sugars tend to eat fewer healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products that are good for their heart health,” said Miriam Vos, M.D., Ms.P.H, lead author, nutrition scientist and associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

The likelihood of children developing these health problems rises with an increase in the amount of added sugars consumed. Overweight children who continue to take in more added sugars are more likely to be insulin resistant, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, according to the statement.

“There has been a lack of clarity and consensus regarding how much added sugar is considered safe for children, so sugars remain a commonly added ingredient in foods and drinks, and overall consumption by children remains high – the typical American child consumes about triple the recommended amount of added sugars,” said Vos.

For more on this story, as shared on Good Morning American, CLICK HERE. 

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Where in NC is PE?

When my granddaughter started elementary school, she had physical education (PE) class twice per week. At that time, we were disappointed that it wasn't every day. By the time she was in fifth grade, PE was only offered about twice per month. In her words, "How is that enough? I thought we needed PE every day!"

We can do better and now is our chance!

Tell our Public School Leaders to include PE in the state's education accountability plan. 

The federal law, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was passed in 2015 and now every state has to create an accountability plan. ESSA emphasizes a well-rounded education, prioritizing physical and mental health. We need to tell state education leaders PE should be included in NC's plan.

All students should have the opportunity to participate in PE - it not only helps their physical health, but their mental and emotional health as well. Just like my granddaughter, many students in NC do not get the physical education they need. With an ever-growing number of priorities competing for time during the school day, too many of our children have lost what was once a given: access to quality PE.

Will you help me save PE? Take action today!

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Meet Andy Martinez, Champion for Smoke-Free Workplaces

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the American Heart Association and the work that we do.  We are constantly amazed by our volunteers' commitment to advocate for healthier lives and to help save lives through policy change.  We are pleased to spotlight Andy Martinez as this month's volunteer champion.

Name: Andy Martinez

Occupation: Entrepreneur, Community Volunteer

How long have you been volunteering with the American Heart Association? Since 2007

Why do you advocate for smoke-free communities?

I personally experienced how smoking can affect one’s health…I lost my Dad when he was 54 years old due to heart disease brought on by smoking. I believe that by living in the U.S. we all enjoy rights and privileges, as long as they don’t affect the rights and privileges of others.

What is your all-time favorite thing to do on your time off?
Spend time with my family and my grandchildren (3 boys) … and playing golf.

Can you please share about the work you have been doing so far to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke via the Smoke-Free Round Rock campaign?

I have advocated on why it is important that all residents of Round Rock should be able to work, play and enjoy their family time in a healthy environment. I have been a spokesperson at the Round Rock Express Heart night, filmed a short video for the campaign, have written letters to Round Rock policy-makers as well as visited individually with elected officials and well-respected community leaders. I have also spoken on behalf of the campaign to 2 Williamson County organizations. El Amistad Club of Round Rock and Citizens for Diversity in Leadership Roles (CDLR) a civic engagement PAC.

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The Movement for Healthy Boulder Kids Continues!

The movement to combat childhood obesity in Boulder is now one step closer to officially being considered on the November election ballot. Earlier this summer, over 9,000 Boulder residents demonstrated their support for healthy Boulder kids by signing a petition to increase access to healthy foods, nutrition education, and physical activity, through revenue from a tax on sugary drinks.

A few weeks ago, the Boulder City Council voted unanimously in favor of this initiative. We are incredibly thankful for their overwhelming support and their consideration of the will of the voters. Stay tuned as we await the final vote of approval to advance this important health initiative to the November ballot.

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It’s going to take all of us, working together, to ensure a victory at the ballot box this November. AHA is committed to this work, but we need support from people like you to vote in favor of this critical public health measure. Join our campaign to combat childhood obesity and support healthy Boulder families!

Please email Vanessa.Fuentes@heart.org to learn how to get involved!

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Meet our Volunteer of the Month: Silvia Gutierrez-Reghunath

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the American Heart Association.  We are constantly amazed by our volunteers' commitment to advocate for healthier lives and to help save lives through policy change.  We are pleased to spotlight Silvia Gutierrez-Raghunath as this month's volunteer extraordinaire. Her passion and enthusiasm shine bright! Read below to learn more about Silvia and her why: 

Name: Silvia Gutierrez-Raghunath

Occupation: Researcher II/Promotora de Salud

How long have you been volunteering with the American Heart Association?

8 years

Why do you advocate to build healthier lives and communities, free of heart disease and stroke?

Because I have a child and he is my motivation, and I want to see my grandchild living free of heart disease and stroke. Because my mother died of heart disease and my father had 4 heart attacks, because I care about my community.

What are your passions and your interests in life?

I'm passionate about making a difference and helping others. I lost my father and my mother and ever since then, I have spent time volunteering to educate others (family and community) about how we can prevent heart disease. I also love getting to know patients and survivors on a personal level. I put my heart, mind and soul into even in my smallest acts. This is my real passion!

What is your all-time favorite thing to do on your time off?

I love spending quality time with my 9 year-old-son Diego and my husband Ramesh

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160,000 Petition Signatures Submitted to Help Reduce Smoking and Support Critical Health Care Needs and Medical Research
CAMPAIGN UPDATE:
The American Heart Association and You’re the Cure advocates joined over 65 partner organizations to gather over 160,000 signatures in support of an important public health measure. Supporters hope to raise the state cigarette tax in order to reduce smoking, support critical health care needs and fund medical research throughout the state. 
As active members of The Campaign for a Healthy Colorado movement, our mission began earlier this summer. After several weeks of intense work, we are thrilled to announce that over 160,000 signatures were delivered to the Colorado Secretary of State's office to advance this statewide ballot initiative. If passed, the cigarette tax increase will raise money for expanding mental-health services for children and veterans, while helping to stop kids from smoking and adults to quit. It will also provide an increased investment for research and treatment of smoking-related diseases.
NEXT STEPS:
The Office of the Secretary of State will now review the petition signatures and the official title given to the measure for the November ballot.
For more information on the campaign, please visit healthyco2016.com. If you would like to get involved, please email Vanessa.Fuentes@heart.org, Sr. Grassroots Director.

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Meet Dr. Steven Houser - New President of AHA

We’re excited to introduce the new AHA President, Steven Houser, Ph.D., FAHA. He not only serves as President but is the senior associate dean of research at Temple University. Most importantly Dr. Houser in a veteran You’re the Cure advocate having testified before Congress and has participated alongside fellow advocates in lobby days at our nation’s Capital. Watch this short video to learn more about Dr. Houser and why he volunteers for the AHA and read more about him here.

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Protecting our Keiki from Secondhand Smoke

The American Heart Association believes that everyone deserves to be protected from secondhand smoke and we especially believe that our keiki deserve that protection.

During the 2016 Hawaii state legislative session a bill was proposed that would have made it illegal to smoke with children in your vehicle. Ultimately the bill did not pass but simultaneously there was work happening on the issue at the local level on Kauai.

In late July, Kauai became the second county in Hawaii to restrict smoking in vehicles when children are present. The Kauai County Council voted 6-1 to approve Bill 2629, which prohibits smoking in vehicles with children under the age of 13. The American Heart Association would have preferred the bill’s original language setting chiildren’s ages at 17 or under but we believe the bill passed is a good start. 

In 2010, Hawaii County was the first to pass a similar bill. The Hawaii County Council passed a bill by a vote of 5-3 to prohibit smoking in vehicles when children 17 or younger are present.

The AHA will continue to support this issue until we achieve statewide coverage whether it’s done county by county or through statewide legislation.

Thank you for your continued support to keep our keiki safe from secondhand smoke.

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