About the Author

Author Picture

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.


Connect with Amanda:
Twitter Link

Articles by Amanda Merck

#SaludTues Tweetchat 9/24/2019: How to Use Data to Promote Health Equity


HEalth Equity Report Card

Disparities in chronic disease, injury, and premature death contribute to worse health outcomes, decreased productivity, and increased direct and indirect healthcare costs for minority racial/ethnic populations and people with low socioeconomic status. Inequities in housing, transportation, environmental issues, and access to healthcare, mental health, healthy food and active spaces contribute to these disparities. But we can’t address these inequities if we don’t have local data to show the way. Data like the new Salud America! Health Equity Report Card can identify health inequity issues in your county, compared to the state and nation, and help you build a case toward solutions. Let’s use #SaludTues on September 24, 2019, to tweet about how you can use data to ...

Read More

Salud America! Members Push for Improved Health Literacy Definition!


health literacy definition

How health literacy is defined has a meaningful impact on the medical field. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sought public feedback on their new definition of health literacy for Health People 2030 by Aug. 5, 2019. We thought it focused too little on the social determinants of health, so we drafted a model comment and a revised definition for our members to consider. In all, 43 Salud America! network members emailed HHS to push for this revised definition! The Old, New, and Suggested Health Literacy Definition The Healthy People report provides science-based national objectives for improving the health of all Americans over a 10-year period. The report focuses on the leading causes of death and disease and drives action at the national, state, and local ...

Read More

Latino Undercount in 2020 Census Could Cost States Billions in Family Assistance


Latino undercount in 2020 Census

An undercount of Latinos in the 2020 Census could cost 37 states hundreds of millions in federal funding. For example, a Latino undercount could cost Texas up to $14 billion of federal money for housing, child and foster care, and other family aid programs, according to a new brief from Child Trends. “The impact of any Census undercount will be felt in state budgets and communities throughout the country,” according to the Child Trends report. “At stake is federal funding for programs that help states improve the well-being of their residents, and their children especially.” Why Is a Latino Undercount Expected? Historically, the Census has undercounted Latinos. For the 2020 Census, even without a citizenship question, officials expect a 3% or more undercount of Latinos, ...

Read More

Texas Increased the Number of School Marshals by 325% in Last Year


Texas School Safety

Texas is one of five states that allows non-security school employees to carry firearms in schools—with permission and training. With 80 hours of training, these armed school employees are known as school marshals. In the past year, the number of school marshals in Texas increased by 325%, according to a new school safety state report released by Governor Greg Abbott. It provides an update on the state’s progress on recommendations made in the School Safety Action Plan, released in May 2018. Improving School Safety? Since the publication of the action plan, Texas passed 20 bills and appropriated $339 million to improve school safety. There is some disagreement as to which recommendations, and subsequent legislation, will be the most effective. For example, two 2018 ...

Read More

#SaludTues Tweetchat 8/27: How to ‘Handle With Care’ Students Exposed to Childhood Trauma


Handle With Care Tweetchat

60% of U.S. children have been exposed to violence, crime, or abuse. These kids still have to go to class, carrying a burden of stress and trauma that can interfere with their behavior and grades. And schools aren’t aware there’s an issue. Fortunately, our new “Handle With Care Action Pack,” which will be released on Aug. 26, 2019, will help police and schools start a Handle With Care program. This enables police to notify school districts when they encounter a child at a traumatic scene, so school personnel and mental health partners can provide appropriate trauma-sensitive interventions. Let’s use #SaludTues on August 27, 2019, to tweet about steps schools, communities, and healthcare professionals can start a Handle With Care program and take steps to become more ...

Read More

Webinar: How to Start ‘Handle With Care’ to Help Students Who Suffer Trauma


Handle With Care Webinar

You are invited to join a national webinar to find out how you can start a “Handle With Care” program in your town to support students who experience violence and traumatic events. The webinar, “How to Start ‘Handle with Care’ in 5 Simple Steps,” is set for 11 a.m. ET on Aug. 26, 2019. Webinar speakers will explore: Handle With Care, a program that activates police to notify schools when they encounter children at a traumatic scene, so schools can provide trauma-sensitive support right away. The program was begun the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice in 2013. The free Salud America! “Handle With Care Action Pack” with materials and technical assistance to help local police, school, and mental health leaders start a local Handle with Care program. ...

Read More

Entire County Benefits When Census Tracts Gain Access to Transit


Transit is good for Cleveland's economy.

Transit is good for Cleveland’s economy, according to a new study. Researchers at Cleveland State University’s Center for Economic Development explored the economic impact of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) over the past decade. They found it’s good for commuters, students, employers, school districts, and healthcare institutions across the region. “[The Transit Authority] is fantastic investment for taxpayers,” Obed Pasha, an assistant professor at Cleveland State and one of the study’s authors, told Streetsblog USA. “Not only does it help lift people out of poverty, it helps revitalize neighborhoods.” Transportation Woes in Cleveland Housing and transportation are important factors to get out of poverty and stay healthy. However, ...

Read More

#SaludTues Tweetchat 8/13: How Companies Target Junk Food Marketing to Latinos



Targeting unhealthy foods and drinks to Latinos contributes to health inequities. Yet, the food and beverage industry use marketing tactics founded on the 4 Ps of marketing—product, place, price, and promotion—to target Latino kids with foods and drinks high in sugars, salt, and fats, according to a recent Berkeley Media Studies Group report. Food and beverage companies leverage geolocation technology, strategically set low prices, and exploit culture to market their least healthy products to Latinos, the report states. Let's use #SaludTues on Aug. 13, 2019, to tweet about how companies use marketing tactics to target Latinos with ads for unhealthy foods and drinks. WHAT: #SaludTues Tweetchat: “How Companies Target Junk Food Marketing to Latinos” TIME/DATE: 1-2 ...

Read More

Report: America Must Address Systematic Racism, Chronic Adversity So All Kids Can Be Healthy



Early experiences can influence a person’s entire life. Specifically, stress due to adversity, poor nutrition, and exposure to environmental toxins can lead to biological changes, which make people more likely to experience physical and mental health problems later in life. Although individual interventions are important for addressing immediate needs, they alone will not advance health equity, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report provides science-driven recommendations to address the social, economic, environmental, and cultural determinants of health and early adversity. They say to advance health equity, decision-makers must address the systemic root causes of poor health and chronic ...

Read More