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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

OMG! IHPR/GrlScouts txtng 2 get Latina grls 2 xrciz



Through teen-friendly text messaging and Girl Scouts, a new partnership led by the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio aims to increase fitness among Latina girls. The “Physical Activity Partnership for Girls” teams local universities with community groups to try to boost activity and reduce sedentary behaviors among Latinas ages 11-14 in San Antonio through text messaging, Girl Scout troop activities and community outreach. “We think using ‘kid-popular’ technology and the partnership of academics, community leaders and Girl Scouts will increase the activity of Latina girls, who have higher obesity rates than other youths,” said Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina, an IHPR researcher who directs the partnership. The IHPR ...

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News: Latino Health Disparities



Check out the latest on health disparities stories, news and funding in the Winter 2009 E-newsletter from the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday. The newsletter features: The story behind SaludToday Using texting to promote fitness among Latina girls  A new "hub" for Latino cancer health disparities research A new guide to help Latinos quit smoking Research funding opportunties Health disparities events Health disparities resources For this and much more, check out our new ...

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Recommendations to Improve Access to Healthy Food, Activity in Texas



Too many children in Texas do not know where their next meal is coming from, and, when food is available, it is too often junk food with little or no nutritional value. So Texans Care for Children has released a new report, “Nourishing Texas Children: Preventing the Twin Challenges of Childhood Hunger and Obesity,” which recommends five strategies to improve access to nutritious food and opportunities for physical activity. The recommendations are: 1. Increase the availability of healthy, affordable food in “food deserts.” 2. Improve nutrition and physical activity in schools and child care environments. 3. Promote breastfeeding. 4. Increase participation in and infrastructure to deliver existing nutrition programs. 5. Establish stronger linkages between farmers and ...

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Story: Latina Mom Sets Example for Family’s Health



A funny thing happened when Rosa, Latino mother of four in Chicago, parted ways with a beloved family member — the living room sofa, where she had let "life pass" her by so many times. She got off the couch and got healthy. Three years ago, she forced herself to leave the couch and attend a local nutrition class. That act literally changed her life. Rosa’s nutrition teacher helped put together a healthy eating plan for her and her kids. Early on, even Rosa resisted eating some healthy foods and thought her children felt the same way. But she knew no one in her home would ever eat the new foods on her food plan if she didn’t try them first. She knew she had to lead by example. Rosa eventually lost 60 pounds, and her children got a lot healthier, too. Read more stories ...

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Report: Obesity Rates Higher in Southern U.S.



The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity has released a fact sheet on Southern obesity that shows disproportionately higher rates of childhood obesity here compared to the rest of the U.S. The eight states with the highest percentages of overweight or obese children are all in the South. In every Southern state except Oklahoma, at least 30 percent of children are overweight or obese (see map). Income, race and ethnicity and education are part of the problem. At each level of income, African American and Latino children were in worse health than whites. And white boys born in 2000 have a 27 percent risk of being diagnosed with diabetes during their lifetimes, while African American and Latino boys have a 40 and 45 percent lifetime risk, ...

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Peanuts, Insulin & English: 3 New Studies on Latino Childhood Obesity



Here are three new studies on childhood obesity among Latinos: Study: Exercise can boost insulin sensitivity in Latino teens Latino teens who do aerobic exercise can improve their overall fitness and increase peripheral and hepatic insulin sensitivity, even if they don’t lose weight, according to a study by Baylor College of Medicine researchers in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, HealthDay reports. The study compared a 12-week exercise program’s effect on fitness, insulin sensitivity and weight among obese and lean Latino teens. Journal Article Study: High-nutrient peanut snacks help overweight Latino kids eat less Latino youths ate fewer times a day and were not as hungry when they were taught how to make healthier food choices ...

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California students help create healthier menu options



Students in Chula Vista, Calif., are participating in a program encouraging them to create nutritious meals to be served in area elementary schools, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Some of the menu changes included adding high-protein sausage to the previous breakfast menu and incorporating traditional Mexican fare, such as taquitos, to the lunch menu. Read more about the students' efforts ...

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Help Fight Childhood Obesity in Texas



Did you know that almost one-third of Texas children are overweight or obese? Overweight kids have a 70% chance of becoming overweight adults, and overweight adults run the risk of developing cancer. With your help, we can start reversing these rates and protect Texas children from a lifetime of health problems. Send a message today to the State Board of Education today urging members to keep strong physical education (PE) and health requirements in Texas schools. Not only do healthier youth become healthier adults, they also become better learners who perform better academically. To get involved in other federal and state advocacy campaigns, visit the Web site of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action ...

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South Has Some of the Highest Rates of Obesity, Diabetes



  Wide sections of the Southeast, Appalachia, and some tribal lands in the West and Northern Plains have the nation’s highest rates of obesity and diabetes, according to new CDC estimates. In many counties in those regions, rates of diagnosed diabetes exceed 10 percent and obesity exceeds 30 percent. The estimates, in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, are the first to provide county-level snapshots of obesity across the U.S. To view county-level estimates of obesity and diabetes visit Diabetes Data and Trends. Obesity is one of several factors linked to type 2 diabetes. Where people live, how much money they earn, their culture and their family history also play a role. An unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, and socioeconomic factors ...

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