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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

VIDEO: Expert Discusses Importance of Social Determinants of Health

Dr. Paula Braveman, a health researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, spoke about the importance of social determinants of health on Jan. 27 at the Cancer Therapy and Research Center in San Antonio as part of the new SALSI/CTRC Health Disparities Lecture Series. Braveman's talk highlighted her work measuring, documenting, and understanding socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities, for a crowd of nearly 100 people. Watch video of her talk here. The SALSI/CTRC Health Disparities Lecture Series, sponsored by the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute (SALSI) and the CTRC, brings some of the top U.S. health disparities experts to San Antonio to offer the latest trends, tools and advancements in the fight against cancer health disparities. The series is a joint ...

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Hispanics Have Among the Highest Diabetes Rates

The number of Americans with diabetes has increased from 23.6 million in 2008 to 26 million, and minority groups continue to suffer higher diabetes rates, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Diabetes affects 8.3% of Americans of all ages, and 11.3% of adults aged 20 and older, according to the CDC's National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011. About 27% of those with diabetes—7 million Americans—do not know they have it. Among adults, diabetes rates were 16.1% for American Indians/Alaska Natives, 12.6% for blacks, 11.8% for Hispanics, 8.4% for Asian-Americans, and 7.1 percent for whites. "These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes manage the disease to prevent ...

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Track Historical Rise of Obesity and its Economic, Health Impact

Learn about the historical rise in the obesity rate to its current epidemic level, and see the economic and health impact of obesity if the rate keeps going up or possibly down. Then sign up to be a part of PreventObesity.net and learn more about ways to get involved. Also sign up with Salud America! to learn about the latest in Latino childhood ...

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Meeting Report: Progress in the Fight Against Latino Childhood Obesity

A new report highlights Latino childhood obesity challenges and potential solutions that were discussed at the 2nd Annual Scientific Summit of Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children. The summit, from Sept. 22-24, 2010, in San Antonio, showcased the innovative Latino childhood obesity research being done by the program's  20 pilot investigators. The investigators, from 11 states around the nation, presented the progress they’ve made on their two-year, $75,000 pilot projects to the audience of 75 of their peers and experts in the field. “I have to tell you, we’re very excited about the impact our pilot investigators are making,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America!, which is led by the ...

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Study: 1 in 4 Overweight Women Think They’re Normal Size; Minorities Play Down Overweight Status

Almost one-quarter of young women who are overweight actually perceive themselves as being normal weight, while a sizable minority (16 percent) of women at normal body weight actually fret that they're too fat, according to a new study, HealthDay reports. The study found that 30 percent of adult Americans in the "overweight" class believed they were actually normal size, while 70 percent of those classified as obese felt they were simply overweight. Among overweight women, 28 percent of blacks and about 25 percent of Hispanics considered their weight within the normal range, compared to 15 percent of overweight white women. The trend was the opposite among normal-weight women, with more whites (16 percent) believing they were fat, compared to just 7 percent of blacks, according to ...

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Spanish Class Dance Video Gets Students Moving, Learning

Bailamos is Spanish for, “Let’s dance.” But in Cathy Bohnak’s Spanish class in Medina Valley High School in Castroville, Texas, students don’t just learn the term—they perform it. In class, students dance and march along to a pair of student-created dance videos while they recite and practice Spanish vocabulary words. “This is a fun way to get exercise and learn Spanish vocabulary at the same time,” Bohnak said. The dance videos are part of a schoolwide plan to get Medina Valley students moving. In addition to the Spanish class, activities to get students moving have been implemented in math and science classes, too. Several teachers also volunteered to host a video-led exercise session for students before school and a Salsa dance class after school. The ...

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Video: Latina Teens Advocate for Community Change

Rosemarie Burgos and Melanie Benitez were a bit nervous. The two teens—on a night when their friends might be home watching TV—were about to stand before the Common Council of New Britain, Conn., and argue that the city should plan to re-open pools to boost local physical activity options. But they came prepared. Months before that Sept. 8 city meeting, Benitez, Burgos and other Latina teens joined a pilot project led by the Community Health Center and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through Salud America! The RWJF Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children. As part of the project, the girls took photos of parks and the closed pools littered with trash and graffiti, interviewed kids, parents and city officials on the need for ...

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See Who’s Stepping Up Vs. Latino Child Obesity

How does... A group of Latina teens get city leaders to boost activity in parks? (Page 1) Spanish class get kids up and moving? (Page 3) Cristina Barroso help Latinos' activity, body-image perceptions? (Page 5) 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! Salud America! is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation network to pevent 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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Addressing Obesity Among Latinos

Check out this Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) blog about Unity Health Care, which runs a health center in a Washington, D.C., area that is home to many recent Mexican and Central American immigrants: A 2008 study showed that, among the Latino population in DC, 60 percent of kids were overweight or obese—a staggering number, and one that Unity wanted to address.   On Wednesday morning at APHA, Dr. Eleni O’Donovan explained how they did. O’Donovan and her colleagues began by adapting the national program We Can (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) to fit the needs of their center. They identified ways they could help local families, who were already coming to the health center for other services, eat healthier foods and be more active. Using ...

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