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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 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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Help Us Reduce Latino Child Obesity

Join Salud America! and receive news about the latest research, events, funding opportunities and other activities in the fight against Latino childhood obesity. Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children aims to unite and increase the number of Latino researchers and advicates seeking environmental and policy solutions to address Latino childhood obesity. Salud America! is led by the team behind SaludToday. Watch our video here or ...

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San Antonio gets $15M to fight child obesity

A $15.6 million federal grant to San Antonio will serve as a “rallying point” in the city's ongoing effort to fight childhood obesity, Mayor Julián Castro said Friday, according to the San Antonio Express-News: The grant was funded through stimulus money and hailed by first lady Michelle Obama, who has taken on the battle against childhood obesity. That's an ongoing struggle in San Antonio, where a recent study showed 30 percent of children age 8 to 10 are obese, with Hispanic children suffering higher rates than others. One of the several ways the city will approach the goal of healthier children is to establish an “Active Living Council of San Antonio” targeting physical activity in the city. On the nutrition side, the city will work with schools, churches, restaurants, ...

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Video: S.A. Mayor to Roll Out Fitness Council

Watch a video of Julián Castro, a Latino and mayor of San Antonio, Texas, who is preparing to roll out a new fitness council for the city. Castro also talks about how he stays fit in office in the video, which is from ...

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New ‘Healthy Eating’ Funding Opportunity

Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), is seeking proposals for proposals for research to promote healthy eating among children to prevent childhood obesity, especially among lower-income and racial and ethnic populations at highest risk for obesity. Approximately $2.4 million will be awarded for Round 5 grants, rapid-response grants and New Connections grants through Healthy Eating Research. The broad topics and types of studies that apply to these three types of grants are described in the full "call for proposals" here or at the Healthy Eating Research Web site. Applications are due May 13, ...

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Latino, Black Kids at Higher Risk for Chronic Conditions

Latino and black children had a higher risk of having a chronic health condition, such as obesity or asthma, a new study found, HealthDay reports. The study, published in the February Journal of the American Medical Association, found that one of every two U.S. children now grapples at some time with a chronic health condition—one that lasts at least 12 months, the report states. The good news is that for many of those children, their chronic childhood illness won't persist. Just over 7 percent of those who reported a chronic condition at the beginning of the study still had the condition six years later. The bottom line, according to article commentary, is that U.S. children need better health habits. Prevention is key. Read the journal article or the news story about the ...

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