Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Improving Arizona’s Birth Outcomes

March 13th, 2014

Arizona ranks in the middle of the pack in infant mortality.  We’re doing many things right to improve the health of our babies-  but we have a way to go. Last fall we participated in a learning collaborative sponsored by the National Governors Association.  About 160 folks met to begin the process developing a statewide plan.  They included physicians, public health, nutrition, behavioral health, city planners, business leaders and many more. 

After looking at the data on the health of Arizona’s women and children and reviewing some best practices from around the state, participants broke into groups to talk about the issues and to develop strategies to address these issues. These strategies will be the foundation for the statewide plan to improve birth outcomes.  

Our next step is to form workgroups to develop action plans for the different strategies identified. You can look at the presentations from the day and learn more about our efforts by going to the Healthy Babies web page. Many people have volunteered to be a part of these workgroups and have signed commitment forms.  It’s important to know that this is not an ADHS plan but Arizona’s plan.

USDA Announces New School Nutrition Guidelines

February 28th, 2014

The USDA announced proposed new guidelines for school wellness policies as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 this week.  The new policies set goals in nutrition, physical activity, and other school-based activities promoting student wellness. Additionally, the school wellness policies include a guideline on food marketing in schools, setting a standard that if an item cannot be sold or served in schools, it cannot be marketed to kids in schools.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also launched a new School Nutrition Environment and Wellness Resources website, which includes sample wellness policy language for school districts and a dedicated page of resources for food marketing practices on the school campus.

Food for the Olympians

February 7th, 2014

As the Olympics begin, Chef and Registered Dietitian Allen Tran’s words come to mind, “nutrition can make a good athlete great or a great athlete good”. I think his view holds some truth for all of us. Allen knows because he is the High-Performance Chef for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. He is in Sochi preparing meals for our Olympic athletes who are aiming for gold medal performance. 

Olympic athletes have amazing nutritional needs, with some like downhill Alpine skiers needing as many calories as football players while others may need far less. Like us, the athletes often base their diets on lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lots of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. In the Olympic Village, foods are available to meet religious needs like Halal and Kosher foods, preferences for vegetarian diets, and offer flavor-filled options like spicy fajitas, Thai or Cajun items.

The Sochi Olympic Games are a great opportunity to sample regional cuisine, like the nearly 70,000 gallons of borscht that will be served or a delicious salad with diced boiled beets, potatoes, diced carrots, peas, kidney beans, pickled cabbage, onions, cucumbers, and more.  Want to see what Team USA athletes might be eating? Check out Chef Allen Tran’s Sample Menu. 

  • Breakfast – Oatmeal, Greek Yogurt with Fresh Berries, Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Post-Morning Workout Snack – Almonds, Banana
  • Lunch – Veggie and Beef Texas Chili, Cornbread made with Greek Yogurt, Spinach Salad with Avocado
  • Post-Afternoon Training Snack  – Chocolate Milk, String Cheese, Applesauce
  • Dinner – Grilled Jerk Chicken, Roasted Plantains, Vegetable Kabobs (Bell Pepper, Zucchini, Eggplant)

New Prevention Resources

February 6th, 2014

CDC’s 2013 Prevention Status Reports have just been released publicly on CDC’s website.  You’ll find reports specific to Arizona on topics like nutrition, physical activity, teen pregnancy, tobacco use, HIV, heart disease, motor vehicle crashes, and prescription drug abuse.  Reports include a few data indicators of how we compare to the U.S., as well as implementation of key policies related to the topics. The website has a Quick Start Guide, which gives tips and tools for using the reports.  The idea is to build an inventory of evidence-based public health practices and improve health outcomes. 

For Return on Investment information you can check out a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation  which has findings about increases in local public health spending associated with decreases in infant deaths, and deaths from cardiovascular disease.  Low-income communities experienced the greatest health and economic gains with increases in local public health spending. 

Also, the National Council on Aging recently put together a brief compiling the results from the national Chronic Disease Self-Management Program study.  The results included an impressive 21% improvement in depression, 13% improvement in number of days per week being moderately active, 12% improvement in medication compliance, and a $714 per person saving in emergency room visits and hospital utilization.

Encouraging WIC Outcome Measures

February 4th, 2014

There’s increasing evidence that whether a person will have a healthy weight as an adult is influenced by nutrition and physical activity in the first 5 years of life.  In fact, a new study this week in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that overweight 5-year-olds are 4 x more likely to become obese later in life. 

That makes our Women Infant and Children program a critical leverage point in turning the tide on obesity.  WIC focuses on the nutritional and overall health of families with kids aged 0-5.  Back in 2009 we moved to a healthier food package, and we’ve ramped up our nutrition assessment and education activities with evidence based practices.  This week we got some encouraging performance measures in from WIC suggesting that our efforts are paying off.     

Our initiatives have resulted in a decrease in overweight 2-5 year old WIC participants from 14% in 2011 to 13.3% in 2013.   Likewise, obese WIC participants 2-5 years old decreased from 13.2% in 2011 to 12.4% in 2013.  The percent of WIC moms who breastfed at least 6 months also increased from 25.7% in 2011 to 27.1% in 2013.  Congratulations and keep up the good work.

Home Visiting: An Evidence-Based Best Practice

December 26th, 2013

Home visiting programs are highly effective at coaching new parents to be better parents.  Home visiting is particularly effective in building skills needed to be an effective parent as well as providing support for breastfeeding, nutrition, child development, fussy babies, oral health, and access to community resources. Arizona has a long tradition of supporting home visiting.  Arizona’s coalition of partners is called the Strong Arizona Families Alliance

For example, Health Start is a program funded through lottery funds and uses community health workers, to provide education, support, and advocacy services to pregnant/postpartum women and their families in targeted communities across the state. The High Risk Perinatal Program assists families who have a child in the neonatal intensive care unit. Taking home a medically fragile baby can be overwhelming, and one component is having community health nurses come to the home and help parents learn how to care for their infant. 

Our Bureau of Women and Children’s Health and First Things First brought together our sister agencies and awarded a $12M Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting grant. The grant supports expansion of Nurse-Family Partnerships, Healthy Families, and Family Spirit to thirty-one at-risk areas of the state through 2015. The Nurse-Family Partnership is cited as one of the most effective interventions to improve family outcomes.  BTW: home visiting has an ROI of $5.70 for each dollar spent.

Empowering the El Congreso Internacional de Promoción de la Salud

November 19th, 2013

I was fortunate to attend the 2nd annual “ECongreso Internacional de Promoción de la Salud (CIPS)” last week in Hermosillo.  There were more than 400 public health attendees from 17 countries at the conference.  I presented our pre-school Empower program….  which empowers kids to make good choices about nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco using age-appropriate vehicles including costumed characters and a coloring book.  

My presentation focused on 10 Sample Policies including links to implementation resources.  I brought a 1-foot stack of Spanish Empower brochures which were completely gone after the first day.  Hopefully Empower will become a pre-school best-practice all the way from the Nogales border to Tierra del Fuego!

Guide to Community Prevention Services

October 22nd, 2013

Every so often- you run into a resource guide that stands above the rest.  I discovered one of those awhile back called the Guide to Community Preventive Services – and it’s a free resource to help you choose programs and policies to improve health and prevent disease in communities.  The easy-to-read resource guide answers questions like: 1) Which program and policy interventions have been proven effective; 2) Are there effective interventions that are right for my community; and 3) What might effective interventions cost and what’s the return on investment?  

There are modules on different public health topics- and the evidence-based information is printed in colorful, easy-to-read formats.  Subjects include much of our core strategic plan activities in health and wellness including: Adolescent Health; Alcohol; Asthma; Birth Defects; Cancer; Cardiovascular Disease; Diabetes; Emergency Preparedness; Health Communication; Health Equity; HIV/AIDS,STD’s, Pregnancy; Mental Health; Motor Vehicle Injury; Nutrition; Obesity; Oral Health; Physical Activity; Social Environment; Tobacco Use; Vaccines; Violence; and Worksites.  Learn more about The Community Guide, collaborators involved in its development and dissemination, and methods used to conduct the systematic reviews.

The School Day Just Got Healthier

September 17th, 2013

Nearly 32 million U.S. kids get meals at school every day- and the meals are based on new nutrition standards from the USDA.  Kids attending the schools that participate in the program will have more vegetables and fruits, less fat and salt, and more whole grains. Portion sizes will better meet the needs of growing children. The changes to make for a healthier school day will also provide parents opportunities to help create stronger school wellness policies. If you pack a lunch for your child to take to school, remember to take steps to keep the lunch safe to eat.

President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

July 18th, 2013

If you’re a product of the 60s and 70s like me… you probably remember that the President’s Council on Physical Fitness  was a big deal in elementary school.  At least it was in Tucson where I grew up.  By practicing things like chin ups, rope climbing, and running a mile in a certain time you could qualify for a cool badge and a certificate that looked like it was signed by the President.  In those days, the Council focused on rigorous fitness…  with less of an emphasis on general physical activity. 

The Council was started by an  Executive Order in 1959 but substantially bolstered in January, 1963 by an EO from President  Kennedy.  Some of you might remember RFK’s famous 50 mile trek on February 9, 1963 when he walked with his AG staff from Great Falls, MD to Harpers Ferry, WV.  The journey was triggered by a challenge from his brother, (JFK), who had told the story of Teddy Roosevelt’s 50 mile military walking challenge when he signed the 1963 Executive Order.  Only 1 person made it to the end of RFK’s 50 mile walk- you can guess who (he was wearing Oxford shoes in the snow and ice). Here’s an interesting NPR Story on the walk.  

On June 23, 2010, the White House signed a new Executive Order changing the Council’s name to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition…  expanding the mission to include nutrition.  These days, the Council focuses on expanding the awareness of the benefits of regular physical activity, fitness, sports participation, and good nutrition; enhancing coordination of programs within and among the private and public sectors that promote physical activity, fitness, sports participation, and good nutrition.  Drew Brees (the quarterback for the Saints) is the co-chair. 

Some of the partnership organizations that play a key role in the Council’s mission these days include the NFLs Play 60 Program; Joining Forces which focuses on physical activity for military families; the Entertainment Software Association, which highlights active video games as one tool to help Americans lead more active lives; Let’s Move! Active Schools, which empowers school champions to create active environments to get students moving; and Let’s Move (the First Lady’s public health initiative); and Special Olympics among other partners. 

In short, you can see that the mission of Council has morphed from its early focus on fitness to a new approach that focuses on getting people moving (not necessarily in a competitive way) and encouraging better, healthier eating.  For example, today’s award is called the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award which focuses on a healthier lifestyle rather than fitness.  Kids and adults can work toward Presidential Active Lifestyle Awards and gear. You can even order a personalized digital badge that’s perfect for touting your accomplishment on social media.