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Amanda Merck

Merck completed her MPH with a concentration in Physical Activity and Health. She curates content for Salud America! (@SaludAmerica), a Latino childhood obesity prevention project based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. She focuses on the latest research, resources, and stories related to policy, systems, and environmental changes to enhance equitable access to safe places for kids and families to walk, bike, and play.


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Articles by Amanda Merck

How Your City Can Fund More Active Transportation



Access to walking, bicycling, and other forms of active transportation can benefit Latino and all people’s health, safety, social connectivity, and quality of life. But many communities struggle to pay for sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails. Fortunately, a new report from Safe Routes to School National Partnership explains “active transportation financing” and how it can set the stage for strong health partnerships that can generate healthy, active, equitable communities Active Transportation Matters There is a connection between public health and transportation. People are healthier when they have safe places to walk and bike. However, disparities exist. Low-income populations and Latino and other communities of color have fewer safe places to walk and higher ...

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Report: Junk Food Advertised More to Latino, Black Kids



Disparities in advertising for unhealthy food continue to target Latino and Black youth, according to a new report from Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut, the Council on Black Health at Drexel University, and Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. Eight out of 10 food ads seen by Latino children on Spanish-language TV promote fast food, candy, sugary drinks, and snacks. Unhealthy food marketing aimed at youth is a contributor to poor diets and related diseases, like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Targeting Latino and Black youth with unhealthy marketing contributes to disparities in health. That’s why the UConn Rudd Center first explored food-related TV advertising in 2013. Since then, the 10 companies with the most targeted ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat 1/22: Companies Still Target Latino Kids with Unhealthy Ads



Restaurants, and food and beverage companies continue targeting Black and Hispanic consumers with advertising for their least nutritious products, primarily fast food, candy, sugary drinks, and snacks, according to a new UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity report released Jan. 15. Eight out of 10 of the food ads seen by Hispanic children on Spanish-language TV promote fast food, candy, sugary drinks, and snacks, the report states. Although targeted marketing is not problematic in and of itself, target advertising for products that are high in sugar, fat, sodium, and calories to Latino and Black consumers is a public health issue. Join #SaludTues on Jan. 22, 2019, to explore the report findings and tweet about how companies continue to target Latino youth with ads for ...

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Childhood Trauma Increases Risk of Teen Obesity



Teens with more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are more likely to have overweight, obesity, and severe obesity than those with no ACEs, according to a new Minnesota study. Youth with one ACE─psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, familial substance abuse, domestic violence, or parental incarceration─were 1.38 times as likely to have obesity than youth with no ACEs. Those with all six ACEs were 2.03 times as likely to have obesity. Additionally, Latino youth were 1.38 times as likely to be overweight as white non-Latinos. “Our results imply that child health professionals should understand the relationship between ACEs and weight status in adolescence, and that screening for ACEs and referring youth and their families to appropriate services might be an ...

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Survey: Childhood Adversity May Worsen Health Inequities



U.S. Latino and multiracial children face higher exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) than non-Latinos, according to a new national survey. Overall, nearly 62% of survey respondents had at least one ACE, according to a CDC analysis of data from the latest Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual phone survey on the health of a nationally representative sample of 400,000 Americans. About 24% reported experiencing one ACE, 13% two ACEs, 9% three ACEs, and 16% four or more ACEs. Mean ACE scores were higher among: Latinos compared with whites; females compared with males; those with less than a high school education than those completing high school or more; those who make less than $15,000 a year compared with those in all other income ...

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Tell Gov’t: Address Childhood Trauma in Healthy People 2030!



Childhood trauma. Adverse childhood experiences. Toxic stress. Trauma-informed. These are NOT FOUND anywhere in the proposed objectives for Healthy People 2030. We need you to speak up for childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences to ensure the Healthy People 2030 objectives guide our nation in addressing the leading public health concerns. Drafted by our Salud America! research team, with help from Dr. Colleen Bridger of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and Dr. Joe Hendershott of Hope for the Wounded Student, below are three unique opportunities to provide a public comment. Send an Email: Address Childhood Trauma & ACEs in Objectives in Healthy People 2030! Click here to easily send the following email to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ...

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Superintendent’s State Crusade to Help Schools Help Students of Trauma


Bob Stewart at Gladstone Center for Children and Families Source CareOregon Vimeo

Bob Stewart knew that some students were frequently missing class or dropping out of the Gladstone School District in Gladstone, Ore (14.6% Latino). But he didn’t know why. Stewart came to realize his students face trauma─neglect, mental illness, poverty, foster care, divorced or jailed parents, and other adverse childhood experiences─that affect their school attendance and long-term social, emotional, mental, and physical health. He wanted to help. He started mental health services in his district. Stewart wanted to go bigger. Could he achieve his goal of starting a statewide learning collaborative to educate other school districts how to support students who have adverse childhood experiences? Absenteeism: A Symptom of a Larger Problem Stewart, who started as ...

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3 Better Ways to Spend $168 Billion than Parking Garages


The park-and-ride at TriMet’s Park Avenue MAX station in Southeast Portland built in 2015. Source: TriMet via Sightline

Michael Anderson is quite unhappy with Portland’s plans for $168 billion worth of parking garages for “park-and-ride” users of its future 12-mile rail corridor. Anderson, an urban policy writer and analyst at the social justice nonprofit Sightline Institute, says garages are expensive, serve only a few transit riders, and drain money from more beneficial projects. He suggests three more efficient ways to spend the money while boosting transit ridership: mixed-income homes near transit bike infrastructure better bus and rail service. Anderson also encourages people in Portland Metro to advocate for these alternatives and speak up against the parking garage plans, and join local advocacy groups, like Portlanders for Parking Reform, Portland for Everyone, and ...

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Why Telling Latinas to ‘Just Exercise’ is a Big Mistake



Eat right and exercise. You’ve probably heard this health message a thousand times. But there’s a growing case for health professionals to ditch the word “exercise,” as it actually may hinder Latinas from getting the disease-preventing physical activity they need. Why? Read on. Latina Physical Activity & Inactivity Physical activity, like walking, dancing, gardening, and playing with kids can improve blood glucose control and prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. New federal physical activity guidelines just came out confirming the health benefits of physical activity. However, Latinos are less likely than other groups to meet these recommendations, and physical inactivity is one reason Latinas have the highest lifetime risk for diabetes across all ...

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