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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

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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Battling Obesity in America



The problem of obesity in America is a subject of a new CBS Evening News series, "Where America Stands," which looks at problems the nation faces as it enters a new decade. The report tells about the challenges of obesity -- two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years -- and features tips and potential solutions. A Latino family is highlighted in CBS' coverage. In Baldwin Park, Calif., which has six fast-food restaurants for every one that sells fresh produce, Connie Gonzalez and her mother Maria volunteer with the program Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, which pushed for a ban on new drive-thru restaurants. Connie Gonzalez helped convince the school board to make salad bars a staple, and 100-minutes of weekly ...

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Diabetes on the Rise in Older Mexican Americans



The percentage of Mexican Americans with type 2 diabetes, the kind closely linked to obesity, has nearly doubled since 1993, according to new research reported by Reuters. A decline in diabetes-related complications in the overall U.S. diabetic population hasn't also occurred in Mexican Americans ages 75 and up, the study found. Mexican Americans generally have a greater risk of diabetes that whites, but age trends in this population group have been largely unstudied. To investigate trends in older Mexican Americans, the researchers looked at data from a community-based study of Mexican Americans ages 75 and older living in the southwestern U.S. Their analysis included 1,132 men and women who were surveyed between 1993 and 1994, and another group of 902 surveyed in 2004 and ...

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San Antonio School Starts Wellness Campaign



After watching some middle-schoolers use soda machines to buy “lunch,” Principal Dr. John Kennedy decided that changes were needed at St. Anthony Catholic School in the predominantly Latino city of San Antonio, Texas. He was approached by some parents who also were interested in addressing student health, and the Mi Vida (My Life) wellness campaign was born. Mi Vida is an acronym for a short poem they wrote: My life includes Veggies, fruits & fun in meals with everyone, daily walks or climbing trees, and learning at St. Anthony’s! The motto of Mi Vida is “Play Often. Eat Well.” “The paths toward healthy minds, bodies, and spirit are interconnected, and achieving this overall health is part of our community goals at St. Anthony’s,” said Dr. Kennedy. ...

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Lessons Learned on Increasing Physical Activity in Special Populations (Including Latinos)



The Active Living by Design program, community action model and lessons learned from 15 grantee communities are featured in a supplement of the December 2009 edition of the The American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The practice-based special issue describes community partnerships representing a range of lead agencies with emphasis on increasing physical activity in special populations, including Latinos. There are examples of the process of planning and implementing comprehensive approaches to increase community levels of physical activity, including how to engage partners, secure resources, increase community participation, design policy and environment interventions, increase political or community support, address challenges or minimize barriers, and keep the momentum going ...

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