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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

Girl Scouts Help UT Health Science Center Researchers Fight Obesity

A group of Girl Scouts in San Antonio, Texas, spent part of their President’s Day working on a photography assignment that could be beneficial in pinpointing causes of sedentary lifestyles. The Avenida Guadalupe Girl Scout Center on San Antonio’s West Side went out to take pictures in order to identify the things in their neighborhood that either help them get involved in physical activities or discourages them from being physically active, according to a report in the San Antonio Business Journal. The girls’ perspective will be used by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio as part of a broader effort to get young girls, particularly young Hispanic girls, moving. The project is led by two researchers from the Institute for Health ...

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SaludToday’s Dr. Ramirez Talks About Latino Obesity on Latina Lista

A new study in the journal Pediatrics found that "household routines" can reduce childhood obesity -- eating regularly with the family at dinnertime, getting enough sleep and limiting TV time -- but cultural and other factors are important, too, SaludToday Director Dr. Amelie Ramirez told the Latina Lista blog. Latino kids are more obese than their white counterparts. Dr. Ramirez, who also heads the Salud America! research network to prevent obesity among Latino kids at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, told Latina Lista that obesity is a complex issue for Latinos: Latino children, who have some of the highest rates of obesity, tend to: consume too much total and saturated fat, cholesterol, added sugar and ...

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SaludToday Researcher On Paula Zahn’s TV Show On Women’s Health

Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina, a researcher at SaludToday and the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, spoke about Latina child and youth obesity in a new TV special featuring former CNN anchor Paula Zahn. The four-part special, “Health Secrets: What Every Woman Should Know,” aired on WTTW-TV (Chicago), addresses women's health needs at all stages of life. Dr. Parra-Medina was featured Jan. 21, 2010, in a segment examining the complex issues facing young women. See the segment here by clicking on the "Overweight Teens" title under the main video. Read more about Dr. Parra-Medina ...

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Surgeon General Releases Plan to Reduce Childhood Obesity

U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin has released a report, the Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation, which recommends ways to improve nutrition and physical activity, include school wellness policies, reduce junk food marketing to children and support walking and biking infrastructure. Yet the report hasn't gotten the same media hype as when First Lady Michelle Obama made it her personal goal to fight against childhood obesity (earlier this week, the first lady met with lawmakers on the issue). But the surgeon general's report has merit, says a Washington Post blogger: ...[the report] talks about personal responsibility, about communities working together, about grassroots efforts. It places the onus for weight loss squarely on the shoulders of individuals. ...

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Roundup: Obesity’s Impact on Minority Health

Check out these news bites on Latino childhood obesity: Average low-income person loses 8.2 years of perfect health; obese, 4.2 years The average low-income person loses 8.2 years of perfect health, the average high school dropout loses 5.1 years, and the obese lose 4.2 years, according to study in the December 2009 American Journal of Public Health. The study shows that poverty and dropout rates are at least as important a health problem as smoking in the U.S. Heart exams of minority, overweight sixth-graders in Houston shocks experts Heart screenings given to 94 mostly Latino and black, mostly overweight sixth graders at a school in Houston uncovered seven kids with heart conditions, the Houston Chronicle reports. The cardiologist behind the screenings, who expressed shock at ...

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Want a Job that Helps Fight Latino Child Obesity?

The Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday, is hiring for a new position that would contribute to reducing child obesity among Latinos: Social Science Research Associate II This two-year position is responsible for supporting the implementation of two IHPR research projects that focus on the prevention and control of childhood obesity, including the provision of research support for these two community-based health promotion intervention research projects. The candidate also would: plan, develop, coordinate, schedule and conduct health education using face to face and telephone; maintain and organize records of all participants involved and provides details of contact; assist in designing a plan for ...

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What Stops Parents from Heeding Childhood Obesity Prevention Messages?

Check out these new research items on Latino childhood obesity: Parents list barriers to adopting obesity prevention recommendations Parents identify many barriers to adopting obesity prevention recommendations, most notably child and family preferences, resistance to change and economic barriers, according to a study in the December 2009 BMC Pediatrics. The study conducted four focus groups of parents (two in Spanish). Study researchers suggest that intervention programs consider the context of family priorities and how to overcome barriers and make use of relevant facilitators during program development. Report: Obesity among low-income, preschool-aged children has steadied New data indicate that obesity prevalence among low-income, preschool-aged children increased steadily ...

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Funding Opportunities: Latino Childhood Obesity

Here are some new funding opportunities related to Latino childhood obesity: Health Impact Project The Health Impact Project is seeking applicants to undertake health impact assessment (HIA) demonstration projects. The grants, of $25,000 to $150,000, aim to demonstrate the effectiveness of HIAs and promote their incorporation into local, state, tribal and federal decision-making. Applications are accepted at any time. Fund for Better Health The American Medical Association Foundation is offering Fund for Better Health grants of up to $5,000 that address healthy lifestyle issues, including nutrition and physical fitness. The Fund is not currently accepting applications, but will be again in the spring of 2010. Improving Diet and Physical Activity Assessments Several National ...

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RWJF Grants Help Communities Like San Antonio, TX, Tackle Child Obesity

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has awarded multi-year grants to 41 communities across the country in an expansion of a landmark program to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. One of the sites is San Antonio, Texas, one of the nation's most historic cities, and one of the heaviest. Local leaders in this predominantly Hispanic city have been addressing the issue through multiple lenses as they work to combat rates of obesity and overweight as high as 76 percent. The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health) and San Antonio Restaurant Association recently formed a partnership to press for healthier restaurant menus. By introducing options with lower calories, fat and sugar, they hope, restaurants will create greater consumer demand for such foods. A ...

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