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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

New Resources in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Here are a few new resources to help in the fight against childhood obesity: ‘Let's Move! Cities and Towns’ Toolkit Let's Move! Cities and Towns: Toolkit for Local Officials, part of first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative, aims to engage local leaders in efforts to fight childhood obesity. Report: ‘Why Place and Race Matter’ PolicyLink, a national research institute, released the Why Place and Race Matter report, which makes the case that addressing long-term racial inequities is critical to crafting effective strategies to build healthy, vibrant communities. CDC Food Environment Guide The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new guide to help states and localities develop, adopt, implement, and evaluate a food procurement ...

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Harnessing the Power of Supermarkets to Help Reverse Childhood Obesity

A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and The Food Trust examines marketing strategies that may help parents, caregivers and youths select and purchase healthier foods and beverages at the grocery store. The report, Harnessing the Power of Supermarkets to Help Reverse Childhood Obesity, includes case studies and recommendations about marketing tactics, such as in-store promotions, placement and pricing, that can encourage healthy eating, increase customer satisfaction and help food retailers increase profitability. The report provides highlights from a meeting co-hosted by RWJF and The Food Trust in June 2010. More than 60 public health leaders, food retailers, food manufacturers, consumer product designers and marketers met in Philadelphia to address the vital ...

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Webinar: Linking After-School Program Participation with Latino Youth’s Obesity and Physical Fitness Outcomes

The California School Boards Association and the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities (JGC) at Stanford University invite you to attend a Webinar at 11 a.m. central time today on new research linking after-school program participation with Latino youth’s obesity and physical fitness outcomes. As part of Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children, Dr. Rebecca London and JGC are working with community partners in Redwood City, Calif., and the CSBA to understand the effects of participating in a variety of after-school programs on Latino and other students’ obesity and physical fitness outcomes. In the Webinar, JGC staff will present research results and share and discuss the implications of the ...

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San Antonio Researchers Help Girl Scouts Find New Ways To Be Physically Active

For girls growing up on the San Antonio’s West Side, exercise may not be a walk in the park. They encounter stray dogs and face traffic without sidewalks. Public places like basketball courts are often in use by boys, leaving girls reluctant to seek a turn. And parents, fearing crime or unwanted attention, may not let girls roam unsupervised. That’s why researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio are testing a new program to increase girls’ opportunities to become more physically active. The program, “Be Fit with Friends,” gives girls many options – from basic fitness equipment like jump ropes to volunteer opportunities to online social media, fitness video games on the Wii and Kinect and text messaging – to help overcome barriers to ...

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Student Nurses Train to Stem Tide of Latino Youth Obesity

Hispanic nursing students in Chicago, Phoenix, San Antonio, Brownsville, Texas, and Edinburg, Texas will become trainer-influencers to communities, steering Hispanic youth and their families away from the damaging lifelong effects of obesity. Muevete (Move) USA is the nursing students’ training course. This program, which began March 5-6, will equip students to tout a balanced life through healthy choices. “I know, as a Latina, that our children will have problems as adults if we let them continue to be obese,” said Muevete USA project director Dr. Norma Martinez Rogers of the The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. “We have to teach our children how to eat healthy, and through Muevete USA we are teaching an ideal population, Hispanic nursing ...

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San Antonio School District Transforms Cafeterias into Healthy Cafés

Students at Northside Independent School District cafeterias in San Antonio are noticing changes as they choose their food. New options are fresh fruit bowls, veggies, salads, lean meats and whole-grain rolls. Gone are white-flour breads, high-fat cheese, fried food and sodas. Even the cafeteria name is gone—“café” has taken its place. The Northside Child Nutrition Department has spent $1.5 million over the last two years to provide more fresh fruits and salads, and new entrée options with less sodium and fat, in order to improve access to healthy foods. The district also has revamped the marketing of its healthy foods and has a mascot named NIC (Nutrition Instructional Chimp) to visit schools and tout healthy choices. “If you take this food away from the ...

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Free Bilingual Children’s Books Teach Healthy Lifestyles to Latino Kids

A Latino boy plays soccer and encourages kids to play and eat right. A Latina girl and her classmates learn about “veggie cousins.” These are two storylines from the new ¡Salud, familia! children’s book series, from Houston-based publisher Arte Público Press, in which young protagonists make choices about healthy eating and active lifestyles to reduce Latino childhood obesity and diabetes. The free books are distributed free through community partners to low-income Hispanic families with school-aged children in both urban and rural areas across the U.S. “Childhood obesity and diabetes among Latinos are already at pandemic levels; we hope to positively influence Latino attitudes towards healthy lifestyles and nutrition at the grass-roots and policy levels,” said ...

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See Who’s Stepping Up Vs. Latino Child Obesity

How can... Bilingual kids' books teach Latinos about healthy lifestyles? (Page 1) School cafeterias transform into healthy cafés? (Page 3) Researchers more easily investigate American childhood obesity? (Page 4) Find the answers and more in the latest Salud America! E-newsletter. Also find out the latest in Latino childhood obesity policy, news and updates on Salud America!, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) network to prevent obesity among Latino kids. The network is directed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, which developed SaludToday. To sign up to receive Salud America! E-newsletters, go ...

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Gaining Costs, Losing Time: The Obesity Crisis in Texas

The number of Texans who are overweight or obese continues to grow, accounting for a significant jump in the costs borne by Texas employers, according to the Texas State Comptroller of Public Affairs's new report, "Gaining Costs, Losing Time: The Obesity Crisis in Texas." Today, 66.7% of adult Texans are overweight or obese, up from 64.1% in 2005. In Texas, Hispanic and black adults had the highest obesity rates in 2009, at 36.4% and 35.7%, respectively. Child obesity is more common among blacks and Hispanics, too. And Hispanics, which are Texas’ fastest-growing population group, are expected to drive obesity rates higher in future years. The rising cost of treating obesity-related diseases and an aging population with higher rates of obesity also have increased the ...

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