Archive for the ‘Nutrition & Obesity’ Category

Too Much Salt is Putting Our Children’s Health at Risk

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Dallas, Texas, Sept. 17, 2012- American Heart Association says New CDC Study Illustrates Need to Limit Sodium in Foods

The American Heart Association says a new study examining the connection between sodium intake and the blood pressure in U.S. children and teens points to the urgent need to limit salt in foods consumed by young people.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the journal Pediatrics, found that kids between the ages of 8 and 18 were eating an average of 3,387 milligrams a day of sodium. That’s nearly the same amount consumed by adults and more than double the 1,500 daily milligrams recommended by the American Heart Association.

“It’s very disturbing that this nation’s children and teens consume too much salt in their diets at school and home. High blood pressure, once viewed as an adult illness is now affecting more young people because of high sodium diets and increasing obesity,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “While new nutrition standards for school meals are helping, progress is slow.  This study strongly underscores the need to move faster because our kids are on an early path to heart attacks and strokes.”

Too much sodium is linked to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and several other serious health problems.  High blood pressure is one of several diseases that once appeared mainly in adults but has become much more common in youths during our childhood obesity epidemic.

The CDC study found that the risk for high blood pressure among overweight and obese youths rose 74 percent for every 1,000 milligrams of increased sodium intake per day. That compared to only a 6 percent increase among normal-weight young people.  

More than 75 percent of sodium in the diets of Americans comes from processed and restaurant foods, as well as beverages. So much sodium in the food supply leaves many youths with little control over how much they consume.

“The salt we all eat daily is becoming a major public health issue and current approaches to sodium reduction in the U.S. have not been effective,” Brown said. “We must make the reduction of sodium a national priority.” 

The American Heart Association recommends that the U.S. Department of Agriculture institute strong sodium targets in schools and apply new sodium limits sooner than what is currently required.  The association also has also called on the Food and Drug Administration to decrease the Daily Value for sodium to 1,500 milligrams a day and to set mandatory limits on the sodium content of foods.

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AHA Applauds New School Fitness Test

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Washington, D.C., Sept. 10, 2012 American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on a unified fitness assessment program announced today by The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition; the American Alliance for Health, Recreation, Physical Education and Dance; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the Cooper Institute:

“The new school fitness program launched today by The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and other organizations is a positive step forward in the battle to promote children’s health and improve the quality of physical education in the United States.

This assessment will be a great way to evaluate the health impact of physical education programs in schools and allow for a standardized comparison of fitness levels of children across the country. The information collected can be used to inform course curriculum development, children’s physical activity programming and policy change. In addition, the data will be a key resource in developing future strategies to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic, reduce children’s risk factors for heart disease and promote daily physical education in schools.

A high-quality physical education program enhances the physical, mental, social and emotional development of every child, and it incorporates fitness education and assessment to help children understand, improve, and maintain their physical well-being.

Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the last few decades. Almost 20 percent of young Americans are currently considered obese and are at a greater their risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension and other life-threatening illnesses.

Research shows that healthy, more physically fit children learn more effectively, are higher academic achievers, have better attendance and are better behaved in school.

The American Heart Association fully supports this effort, and we urge all states and school districts to integrate this fitness assessment into their physical education programs.”

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There’s a food fight in Congress!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Believe it or not, there’s a heated debate in Congress right now over fresh fruits and vegetables in schools. And we need you to help us be the voice of reason.

Will you take a moment to tell your legislators why providing kids with access to fresh fruits and vegetables during the school day is important to their health and nutrition education?

It’s hard to imagine why some Members of Congress would want to change the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which effectively:

  • Provides more than 3 million elementary school students in over 7,000 schools in lower income areas across the country with a fresh fruit of vegetable snack every day at school.
  • Exposes children to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that they may not otherwise have access to.
  • Increases kids’ daily consumption of fresh produce, which is critical to a healthy diet, without increasing their average intake of calories.
  • Supports local farmers and grocers who help supply the schools with fresh fruits and vegetables.

However, despite this success, some lawmakers have offered proposals to the Farm Bill that would cut funding for the program by 1/3 and allow other types of snacks to be served, weakening the integrity of the program, as outlined in an article on Education Week’s blog today.

We can’t allow this to happen. Send a quick email of support today to help defend the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program!

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AHA CEO Expresses Disappointment with Transportation Bill

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Washington, D.C. – American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement today on the latest version of the transportation legislation approved by Congress last week: 

“The transportation legislation passed by Congress today jeopardizes the safety and health of kids all across America. 

Under this current bill, funding for biking and walking projects would be cut by 60 to 70 percent. Dedicated federal support would be eliminated for Safe Routes to Schools, a popular and cost-effective program that makes walking and biking to school safer. Additionally states would be allowed to allocate this funding for other purposes, which would weaken local control. 

Since 1980, the number of children and adolescents who are overweight or obese has grown to nearly one out of three. Because of the numerous chronic diseases associated with obesity, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, today’s children are on a path to becoming the first generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. 

The Safe Routes to School program can help reverse this terrible trend by bolstering physical activity to keep our kids healthy. Research indicates that children who walk or bike to school are not only more active and maintain a healthier weight, they also perform better in school and have less truancy and disciplinary problems. 

In a recent report, the Institute of Medicine made five recommendations for preventing and solving the nation’s obesity crisis. The first recommendation is to integrate physical activity into people’s daily lives by providing opportunities to walk and bike. This aligns with the American Heart Association’s recommendations of regular physical activity to help everyone live a heart-healthy life. 

The American Heart Association is disappointed that the current transportation legislation cuts dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School, along with the funding for walking and biking paths around the country. These funds are essential to tackling the nation’s obesity problem and supporting physical activity for America’s children.”

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Improving a la carte and vending machine nutrition can help student waistlines and school bottom lines

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Earlier this year the USDA worked to improve nutrition standards for lunches in official school meal programs, but what about those vending and a la carte items?

After improving food served in school lunch programs, the USDA is currently focusing their attention on those other items or “competitive foods.” But will this help our children’s nutrition and the schools finances? According to a recent study, the answer is ‘yes’ to both.

A new health impact assessment commissioned by the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project and the Health Impact Project found that updating standards on competitive foods will help our kids’ waistlines and our schools bottom lines.

According to the director of the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project, Jessica Donze Black, “The evidence is clear and compelling. Implementing strong national nutrition standards to make the snacks and beverages our children consume healthier is something that schools and districts can afford. The USDA should do all it can to finalize and help implement strong standards.”

Want more information on the study? Click here to read the study or watch the video below!

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NIH Director Talks about Obesity on the Colbert Report

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins brought a serious message recently on the Comedy Central’s Colbert Report a few days ago. Dr. Francis talked about the importance of eating well and the state of America’s obesity epidemic.

Have a few laughs and check out the video below.


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Make Change During “World Salt Awareness Week”

Monday, March 26th, 2012

This week is World Salt Awareness Week. World Salt Awareness Week was started by the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) and is a key time for consumers to jumpstart their own diet plan to live a low-sodium lifestyle and to demand that lower sodium products be made available.

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about salt and your heart health lately. But how much is too much? What foods have the highest amount of salt? How can I cut my salt intake? Find the answers to these and many more salt-related questions by going to our special webpage on Sodium.

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Urgent: One week to save safe sidewalks for our kids

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Imagine a transportation bill with no funding to make our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it could soon be a reality if we don’t exercise our voices.

Within the next seven days, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are expected to vote on their respective transportation bills. The House bill would completely eliminate funding for the Safe Routes to School program and other active transportation funding, while a critical amendment to the Senate bill must get passed to ensure communities have access to funding to make walking and biking safer.

Tell Congress to keep funding for Safe Routes to Schools intact now.

The program allows communities to build sidewalks, bike paths, and crosswalks that make physical activity safe and accessible for kids. And current funding levels for the program represent less than one-half percent of total federal transportation spending. Don’t our kids deserve at least that?

Send a message of support for Safe Routes to Schools today!

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State of Women’s Heart Health Webinar

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Did you know that more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined? Heart disease is often silent, hidden and misunderstood- but we can each do our part to learn about our risk factors, make changes, and share the truth with others.

So, kick of American Heart Month by joining us for a national discussion on the State of Women’s Heart Health! You’ll hear from some of our nation’s leading health experts about the latest heart disease and stroke research and prevention efforts.

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WHO: You!

WHAT: A national webinar with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, cardiologist Dr. Nanette Kass Wenger, and fellow survivor-advocates to learn about the new Million Hearts initiative and some of the latest advances in women’s heart research.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 at 5:30-6:30 pm EST (4:30-5:30 pm CST)

WHERE: Your computer

HOW: Register today!  You will receive a confirmation email with log-in details.

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The experts will take some of your questions at the end of the call, so come prepared to participate in the discussion!

We are looking forward to having you join us for this exciting American Heart Month event!

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USDA Releases New School Meal Nutrition Standards

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Washington, D.C. — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement on the release of the final nutrition standards for school meals announced today by First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack: 

“For the first time in a generation, America’s children will have better choices when they get in line at their school cafeterias. 

The new U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition standards are a huge win for kids’ health that will greatly improve the selection of foods and beverages sold in schools. When put into place across the country, these guidelines will play a critical role in helping young Americans maintain a healthy weight, and ensure their lives are free of heart disease and stroke. 

Unfortunately, this victory is not yet complete. The American Heart Association was extremely disappointed that recent congressional interference with the USDA standards will allow schools to keep french fries and pizza on the daily menu. In addition, the association is concerned that children are going to continue to consume too much salt because the timeline to apply sodium standards in school meals is lengthy. 

The association looks forward to working with the USDA, state legislatures and departments of education, and local schools districts to apply — and improve — the new nutrition standards.”

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