Healthy Communities- December 5, 2014


CDC Releases New Tools to Improve Community Health Through Parks and Trails
In the 19th century, Frederick Law Olmsted, famous landscape architect in the 1800s, said that great public parks, such as his proposed Greensward (New York’s Central Park), would function as the “lungs of the city”—green open spaces where city residents could breathe clean air.

To encourage outdoor activity today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a parks and trails toolkit that will help communities create parks with expanded health benefits. In addition to Olmsted’s observations, access to parks can help kids get the 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity each day recommended to maintain good health. According to the 2014 CDC State Indicator Report on Physical Activity, less than 30 percent of youth (grades 9-12) in the United States get this recommended amount of aerobic physical activity. Additionally, more than 25 percent of adults report no leisure-time physical activity. Being physically active is one of the most important steps Americans of all ages can take to improve their health.

The Parks and Trails Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Toolkit has six components to empower individuals and help community planners address health when designing parks and trails. This framework allows public health departments, city planners, project managers, community groups, and other stakeholders work together to create healthier environments.

The toolkit includes:

  • Resources that provide data about health issues in an area, for example, childhood obesity rates, mortality rates, or percent of low birth weight babies
  • Recommendations from existing HIAs, including ways to improve access by evaluating park entry points and support physical activity that can help improve cardiovascular health
  • Citations that support the recommendations

“The closer a person lives to a park or trail, the more likely they are to walk or bike to those places; and if they can walk or bike, research suggests they are more likely to use it,” said Arthur Wendel, M.D., M.P.H., head of CDC’s Healthy Community Design Initiative in the National Center for Environmental Health. “Unfortunately, lack of access, because of distance or dangerous routes, can create a barrier to healthy choices.”

CDC is working with health departments throughout the country to learn about and use the principles of HIA. This tool focuses on how parks and trails can contribute to public health by highlighting key issues such as lack of access to parks and trails and encouraging physical activity.

CDC Launches Interactive Online Diabetes Tool
CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation recently launched an interactive online diabetes atlas that displays state-level diabetes data and trends.
Reports and Articles
surgeon generalSurgeon General Cites Role of Built Environment for Health
The U.S. Surgeon General urged land use professionals to partner with him in his nationwide campaign to curb the rise of chronic diseases and obesity and to encourage a physically active lifestyle, in a talk earlier this month at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) outside of Washington, D.C.

Acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak said that he cannot achieve his office’s mission to “protect, promote, and enhance the health and safety of our nation” without the help of architects, planners, and real estate professionals in designing and building communities that prioritize the physical, mental, and social health and well-being of all Americans.

Lushniak’s remarks introduced a panel of experts gathered to discuss the role that the built environment and community planning can play in advancing the National Prevention Strategy, the Surgeon General’s plan for disease prevention and health promotion.
Navajo Nation president approves junk-food tax
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The sales tax on cookies, chips, sodas and other junk food sold on the country’s largest American Indian reservation is going up.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed legislation Friday to increase by 2 percent the sales tax on food with little to no nutritional value, starting next year. No other sales tax on the Navajo Nation specifically targets the spending habits of consumers. It will remain in effect until 2020, but it can be extended by the Navajo Nation Council.

Lifestyle changes may thwart diabetes progression
An analysis in Diabetologia says male and female prediabetes patients who adopted healthier lifestyles were less likely to progress to diabetes at one and three years compared with those who did not make changes. HealthDay News

American’s View on Obesity is Changing
Fewer American adults see obesity as a personal problem of bad choices but instead as a community problem of shared risks, according to research presented at ObesityWeek. Read more.

Converting Grams of Sugar to Teaspoons on Nutrition Label
Congressman Tim Ryan, is calling on the FDA to change sugar measurements from grams to the more commonly understood teaspoons. Read more.

Researchers Urge Retailers to Replace Kids’ “Eye Level” Junk Food
Policies that place healthier food items at children’s eye level could encourage families and children to eat more healthfully, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read more.

New report, Walking is Going Places: the unexpected rise of foot power as a social trend, transportation innovation and path to happiness
Walking is going places. Humans’ most common pastime–forsaken for decades as too slow and too much effort– is now recognized as a health breakthrough, an economic catalyst and a route to happiness. This flurry of attention about walking is more than a flash-in-the-pan. Evidence that millions of Americans’ are now rediscovering walking for transportation, fitness and fun is as solid as the sidewalk beneath our feet.

As America Walks continues its commitment to promoting safe, convenient and accessible walking conditions, we see firsthand the trend to walking as part of developing physically and economically fit communities. America Walks partnered with Jay Walljasper, author and speaker, to offer access to his latest report Walking is Going Places on the America Walks website.  

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) released the following findings on: Obesity Prevention and Control: Behavioral Interventions that Aim to Reduce Recreational Sedentary Screen Time Among Children:

The Task Force recommends behavioral interventions to reduce recreational sedentary screen time among children aged 13 years and younger. This finding is based on strong evidence of effectiveness in reducing recreational sedentary screen time, increasing physical activity, improving diet, and improving or maintaining weight-related outcomes. Evidence includes studies of interventions that focus only on reducing recreational sedentary screen time (screen-time-only) and studies that focus on reducing recreational sedentary screen time and improving physical activity and/or diet (screen-time-plus). Limited evidence was available to assess the effectiveness of these interventions among adults.

What materials are available to help share this information with others?

  • News Story  – Use this ready-to-go story for newsletters and websites, or simply link to it from the following introduction:

The Community Preventive Services Task Force announced that it recommends Obesity Prevention and Control:  Behavioral Interventions that Aim to Reduce Recreational Sedentary Screen Time Among Children.

  • Sample Tweets –
  • Fight childhood obesity. Learn what works from the #The Community Guide.
  • Use #TheCommunityGuide for interventions to reduce kids TV time and reduce #obesity.
  • Interventions to reduce the time children spend watching TV and using a computer are effective. #TheCommunityGuide
  • New Task Force finding highlights importance of reducing children’s TV time. #TheCommunityGuide
  • Task Force recommends interventions to reduce time spent viewing TV and using a computer. #TheCommunityGuide
  • Community Guide Flyer – Use this as a handout, web link, attachment, or as a source of wording for materials you develop.
  • Content syndication—Post automatically-updated Community Guide content on your website, such as a list of all Task Force findings on this topic.
  • Descriptions of the Task Force, The Community Guide, and Liaisons – Feel free to use language provided in the next section in your promotional materials.

New “Transportation Options” plan seeking public input
For more information: Shelley M. Snow, ODOT Communications, (503) 986-3438
SALEM – The Oregon Transportation Commission has released the draft Oregon Transportation Options Plan for public review and comment. Oregon’s first-ever “transportation options” plan focuses on programs and strategies that facilitate travel choices in communities. It also recognizes the role of many different modes in meeting a broad range of transportation needs. The plan is available online and comments will be accepted until Jan. 30, 2015.

A 16-member policy advisory committee helped assemble the draft plan, which includes policies and recommendations that support ways to integrate options into transportation planning and investments at the local, regional and state level.

To provide written comments or ask questions, contact: Michael Rock, ODOT Planning Section; 555 13th Street NE, Suite 2; Salem, OR 97301-4178 or send an email to

The Oregon Transportation Commission will also hold a public hearing to gather input on the plan at its meeting on Jan. 15, 2015 in Salem.

Mental health inequalities in detection of breast cancer
Women with a mental illness (including depressionanxiety and serious mental illnesses) are less likely to be screened for breast cancer, according to new research published in the BJPsych.
The research was led by Dr Alex J Mitchell, consultant psychiatrist in the Department of Cancer Studies, University of Leicester.
Studies have previously shown there is a higher mortality rate due to cancer in people with mental illness, perhaps because of high rates of risk factors such as smoking. In addition, it appears cancer is often detected later in those with mental illness. Previous research has shown that people with mental illness receive suboptimal medical care. An important question is whether women with a mental illness are less likely to be screened for breast cancer than those who do not have mental health issues. Could the diagnosis of a mental health condition prejudice receipt of a screening mammogram?

Cancer-Risk Debate Didn’t Halt Surgeries
The Wall Street Journal
BOSTON—Doctors at a prominent Boston hospital continued to use a surgical tool during hysterectomies for two years after compiling data in 2011 that questioned the safety of the device and discussing its risks, said hospital officials and doctors.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital curtailed use of the device, the laparoscopic power morcellator in December 2013, acknowledging it had spread a dangerous cancer in two of its patients, one in 2012 and the other in 2013.
In March, the Harvard University-affiliated hospital became one of the first in the nation to stop using the tool.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s