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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

‘F as in Fat’: Obesity Rises in 28 States; Rates Higher in Latinos, Blacks



The U.S. obesity epidemic continues to worsen as adult obesity rates climbed in 28 states in the past year—now exceeding 25 percent in more than two-thirds of the states—with rates higher among blacks and Latinos than whites in 40 states, according to the new F as in Fat 2010 report. Among the report's findings are that Latino adult obesity rates were above 35 percent in two states (North Dakota and Tennessee) and at 30 percent and above in 19 states. Obesity rates in Texas were the 13th-highest in the nation. The report, by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), goes on to discuss how the nation’s response has yet to fully match the magnitude of the problem. At the same time, it highlights public recognition of the issue and ...

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Amelie Ramirez Talks on Challenges, Solutions to Latino Child Obesity



Go here to listen to Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, leader of SaludToday, in a radio interview about the challenges of Latino childhood obesity and her Salud America! program’s efforts to reduce the epidemic. Dr. Ramirez was a guest on “Conversations on Health Care,” a weekly radio show airing in Connecticut, Minnesota and Michigan featuring experts in health care innovation and reform. The show is made possible by the Connecticut-based Community Health Center, Inc. Dr. Ramirez has spent 30 years directing many state-, federal- and privately-funded research programs focused on human and organizational communication to reduce chronic disease and cancer health disparities affecting Latinos. Under her leadership, the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT ...

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Stirring “¿Sabía Usted?” Latino Childhood Obesity Video Wins Awards



A dramatic video that uses shocking statistics and actual child voices to document the multi-faceted epidemic of Latino childhood obesity is earning prestigious film awards and recognition for the Institute for Health Promotion (IHPR) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The video, titled “Did You Know?/¿Sabía Usted?” and developed by the IHPR’s Salud America! program, has won awards from the 2010 New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards, 2010 Aegis Video & Film Production Awards and the 31st Annual Telly Awards: Gold World Medal, “Human Concerns,” New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards, May 3 Winner, “Training/Education,” Aegis Video & Film Production Awards, May 1 Bronze, ...

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Latino Child Obesity Rates Continue to Rise, Especially in Boys



Latino childhood obesity rates continue to rise in the U.S., especially among Latino boys. About 26.8% of Mexican American boys were obese in 2007-08, compared to 19.8% of black boys and 16.7% of white boys, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity among Mexican American boys was only 14.1% in 1988-1994. This increasing trend is troubling because obesity, especially when developed at a young age and carried into adulthood, is associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension and some types of cancer. Watch our dramatic video to find out more about Latino child obesity here or below. Please join our national network, Salud America!, as we unite Latino researchers, advocates and the public in seeking ...

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Report: Redes Meeting Tackles Key Latino Cancer Issues



Perspectives on key Latino cancer issues from the brightest minds in the field are featured in a new report from the 10th Annual Redes En Acción National Steering Committee Meeting. The meeting, held recently in San Antonio, celebrated the 10th year of Redes, a national Latino cancer research network funded by the National Cancer Institute and headquartered at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday. Redes has tested novel interventions to improve access to care and screening. We've trained the next generation of Latino cancer researchers. We've raised awareness of Latino cancer challenges and solutions. Read the visually stunning new report highlights these achievements and highlights new work in ...

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Video Game a Solution to Latino Child Obesity?



Don’t many people blame video games for kids’ couch-potato ways, which are contributing to high rates of childhood obesity? Zan Gao thinks a video game can be part of the solution. Thanks to Salud America! funding, Gao is pilot-testing how Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), a video game that has players stomp on a dance mat to mimic the steps of an on-screen dancer boogieing to ultra cool music, impacts Latino students’ physical activity, fitness and academic performance in Utah schools. “We chose DDR because it is considered culturally sensitive to urban Latino children, who favor playing video games,” said Gao, an assistant professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Utah. “The kids are very excited about DDR and, most importantly, are active when ...

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See Who’s Stepping Up VS. Latino Child Obesity



A health issue derailed Shari Barkin’s promising dance career but also opened a door to a medical career. Zan Gao is using video games to fight childhood obesity. Nancy Butte once survived an earthquake in Guatemala and helped distribute food in the aftermath. Read their stories and more in the latest Salud America! E-newsletter. Also find out the latest in Latino childhood obesity policy, news and updated 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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Roundup: The Latest in Latino Childhood Obesity



Check out this latest news and research in the epidemic of childhood obesity among Latinos: Texas: Girl Scouts involved in research project to promote physical activity To identify ways to get Latinas ages 11-14 moving more, Girl Scouts in South Texas are using Photovoice, in which community members use images to share their perspectives on issues to spark change. The project is part of a larger study led by The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday. Arizona: Kids in lower-income families battling obesity Southern Arizona children are suffering from adult afflictions, and doctors blame it on a troubling surge in childhood obesity. Lifestyle, diet, genetics, and population growth among Hispanics, an at-risk group, all are contributing to the rise. But ...

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Report Highlights How Parks Help People Get Fit



Parks nationwide provide space and opportunity for children and adults to be physically active, but a new review by Active Living Research identifies many ways to further leverage the capacity of America’s parks to help more people achieve recommended physical activity levels. Parks, Playgrounds and Active Living summarizes the growing body of evidence on how park proximity, size and features impact physical activity, especially among populations who are at high risk for being inactive and/or obese. According to the review by Active Living Research grantee Andrew Mowen: Having more parks and more park area in a community is associated with higher physical activity levels. Lower-income populations and some racial and ethnic populations have limited access to parks and ...

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