Healthy Communities – October 15, 2010

If the phrase “Let’s raise awareness” has ever left your lips, you need to read this blog posting


The Health Communicator’s Social Media Toolkit, CDC

This toolkit is designed to provide partners with guidance and to share lessons learned integrating social media into health communication campaigns, activities, and emergency response efforts.  This guide provides information on getting started using social media – from developing governance to determining which channels best meet communication objectives to creating a social media strategy.  An overview of popular social media tools is included.

30 Facts for Childhood Obesity Month
In September 2010, the United States marked the first ever “National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month,” a designation made official by Congress.  In recognition, the RWJF Center tweeted out one fact per day for each of the 30 days in the month.

Reports & Articles

Response of the Food and Beverage Industry to the Obesity Threat Journal of the American Medical Association, October 6, 2010

To avoid public criticism and forestall government intervention, the food and beverage industry hopes that self-regulation is sufficient and also seeks to establish public-private partnerships. This article describes how the food and beverage industries associate their products with health; frame the issues to emphasize balance or physical activity; pick and choose the science; reformulate products to make them appear healthier; and defend themselves and attack critics.

Institute of Medicine Pushes Front-of-Package Food Labels, The Institute of Medicine

A new report concluded that simplified front-of-package food labeling could help improve Americans’ diets and health.  The report highlights the importance of listing calories and three problem nutrients – saturated fats, trans fat, and sodium.  Read a summary and additional commentary from Fooducate.

San Francisco Proposes Ban on Toys in Some Fast Food Meals, San Francisco Chronicle, October 5, 2010
In an effort to combat the childhood obesity epidemic, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is about to propose an ordinance removing toys from fast food meals that have excessive sugar, salt, or fat. The proposal has raised many questions about first amendment rights and the culpability of marketing to children.

Large Employers Can Play a Role in Children’s Wellness
In a new paper in the journal Pediatrics, researchers examined a program at IBM aimed at improving their employees’ families’ eating and physical activity habits. The program spanned 12 weeks and IBM provided a free online tool to help employees achieve their wellness goals. Employees who successfully completed the program received a $150 cash rebate and reported that they made better food choices, increased family-based physical activity, and decreased screen time. Read the Reuters story here and the USA Today story here.

High trans-fat diet linked with overweight children Mothers who consume a diet high in trans-fats may be doubling the risk that their infants will have high levels of body fat, according to new research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Mothers consuming over 4.5 grams of trans- fats per day while breastfeeding may be twice as likely to have children with high percentages of body fat. – According to the FDA, the average daily trans- fat consumption in the USA is 5.8 grams per day

Flow of Empty Calories into Children’s Food Supply Must Be Reduced, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, October 2010

With over 23 million children and adolescents in the U.S. overweight or obese, the risks for many chronic diseases continue to increase. This paper identifies the major sources of overall energy and empty calories in the diets of American youth, providing context for dietary guidance that could specifically focus on limiting calories from these sources and for changes in the food environment. Product reformulation alone is not sufficient— the flow of empty calories into the food supply must be reduced.

School cafeterias to try psychology in lunch line AP, October 12, 2010

Subtle moves can entice kids to make healthier choices in school lunch lines, studies show. Food and restaurant marketers have long used similar tricks. Now the government wants in on the act.

Neighborhoods Can Have Depressing Effect on Health Science Daily, October 9, 2010

One in seven Americans now live in poverty, and that may have an especially depressing effect on people living in bad neighborhoods, according to two Iowa State University researchers.

Where We Live Can Determine How Long We Live St. Louis Beacon, October 11, 2010
One aim of the new health-reform law is to reverse the notion that health disparities are inexplicable and inevitable. The new law is expected to address the issue in part by re-energizing the public health movement. While medical doctors treat disease, public health workers identify trends, explain why people get sick and address conditions that trigger illnesses.


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