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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

Fruit Juice Banned in Primary Schools to Cut Obesity in Scotland


LAtino Health sweetened sugary beverages

Sweetened sugary beverages are the main sources of excess sugar consumption and are associated with decreased water, fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as increased risk for obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Parents in the Tayside area of Scotland expressed their concerns about the excess sugar given to toddlers in the form of fruit juice. In March 2017, more than 140 Scottish primary schools were banned from giving toddlers fruit juice. Water and milk will be served instead. “All local authorities have a duty to provide school meals that meet strict nutritional requirements, ensuring that pupils are offered balanced and nutritious school lunches," a Scottish Government spokesperson said according to one source. Barriers to healthy eating are not only ...

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Outdoor Recreation is Essential to the American Economy


Latino health recreation walking biking economy parks

Americans spend more on bicycling gear and trips ($81 billion) than they do on airplane tickets and fees ($51 billion), and nearly as much on snow sports ($53 billion) as on internet access ($54 billion), according to a 2012 report by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). OIA predicts that Americans spend $646 billion each year on outdoor recreation, which supports 6.1 million direct jobs and $80 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue. Outdoor recreation includes gear, such as apparel, footwear, tents, and bikes; vehicles, such as boats, RVs, and motorcycles; and trips and travel. In many communities, it's outdoor recreation that provides steady employment. "Advancements in technical apparel, footwear and equipment are driving innovation and entrepreneurism, while ...

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World Breastfeeding Week 2017: Sustaining Breastfeeding Together


Latino health breastfeeding equity sustainability

Sustainable development is essentially about ecology, economy, and equity. We cannot achieve sustainable development without multi-level partnerships at all levels. World Breastfeeding Week 2017 is about sustaining breastfeeding together across four thematic areas: Nutrition, Food Security and Poverty Reduction Survival, Health and Wellbeing Environment and Climate Change Women's Productivity and Employment Breastfeeding is one conversation in getting us to think about how to value our health and wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other, and how to care for the world we share. Learn more about how breastfeeding is a component of sustainable development. Together, we can attract political support, media attention, and participation of young ...

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New Orleans Mayor to Address Climate Change Through Walking


Latino health climate change

New Orleans has a lot at stake when it comes to climate change. Among many strategies to reduce dependence on carbon-fired power and increase locally generated solar energy, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced plans in July 2017 to address climate change by redesigning regional public transit so 50% of trips are taken by modes other than driving, such as walking or biking. “It is not enough to plan for how we will adapt to climate change,” Landrieu wrote introducing the new climate action strategy for the city. “We must end our contribution to it.” Not only can improving sidewalks and bike lanes make it safer and easier not to travel by car, but making routes and public transit more relevant and useful can also address racial inequity and health ...

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How I Walk: A Campaign to Rebrand the Word Walking


Latino health disability inclusive

Walking is critical for accessibility. One-third of all American are not able to drive, either because they are too old, too young, too poor, or have some form of disability. People with disabilities are the only minority group you don't have to be born into. Meaning, at any time, any one of us could become part of this group due to injury or illness. The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) was founded in 1999 as a resource center on health promotion for people with disability. They launched a campaign in 2015 to rebrand the word walking. Walking is particularly important for the elderly, people with disability, and lower-income people who have fewer opportunities to participate in sports of formal exercise programs.  The How I Walk ...

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San Antonio Schools Open Their Gyms For Summer Pilot Program


Latino Health Open Use Gym

Twelve middle schools in the San Antonio Independent School District are opening the doors to their gym four days a week as a pilot program to help keep students active over the summer. Creating opportunities for kid's to remain active over the summer is critical to build a culture of health and reduce their risk for obesity and chronic disease. Particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods which lack safe places for kids to play. The Athletic Conditioning & Enrichement (ACE) pilot program was developed by the district's assistant athletic director, Courtney Davis. For two hours a day, coaches teach middle school students about muscle strength, injury prevention, and nutrition. In collaboration with district's summer meals program, students receive two meals a day, before ...

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Detroit Partnership Combines Literacy & Swimming for Kids


Latino Health Swimming Pools

Since 2010, Detroit Swims has taught more than 5800 kids how to swim and aims to teach all kids in the Metro Detroit. Swimming is excellent for mental and physical health, as well as academic achievement, but of f the 120,000 children in the city, it’s estimated 100,000 of them can’t swim, according to one source. Detroit Swims is a nonprofit started by lifeguards in 2010 at the Boll Family YMCA to reduce disparities in swim ability.  The lifeguards contributed $2000 out of their paycheck to teach the first 35 kids how to swim. Latino kids across the country often lack access to pools and swimming lessons, thus face higher rates of drowning and obesity related chronic disease compared to white kids. Detroit Swims has expanded to over six locations, and works with local ...

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NRPA/Disney Play Spaces Grant Application


Latino Health physical activity

Thanks to a grant from Disney, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is expanding the Meet Me at the Park program and providing additional communities with increased access to play spaces in local parks.  Meet Me at the Park brings the magic of parks and recreation to children and families across the United States. Applicants must: Be a local or state government park and recreation agency, (e.g., municipal park and recreation department, tribal recreation department, park district, etc.) Provide opportunities for community engagement and volunteerism in association with the project. Promote the project locally through its own communication channels and on social media. Administer surveys and collect data from at least 25 people at the project site once ...

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VIDEO: A Tale of Two Zip Codes



"When it comes to predicting how long you will live, your zip code is more important than your genetic code," George Takei narrates in A Tale of Two Zip Codes, an animated short film by the California Endowment's 10-year Building Healthy Communities initiative. Where you live determines your opportunities, thus your health and life expectancy. Consider not having healthy food options, clean air, safe sidewalks, nearby parks, quality schools, public transportation and preventive health care-the root causes lie in racial and economic discrimination. Struggling so much to find healthy options can be an overwhelming source of chronic stress, which is a serious health risk factor. If we are all going to be healthier, we need to look at inequality. Countries with the ...

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