Monday, August 30, 2010

New Campaign Promotes Healthy Lifestyles in Houston

Today, it’s extremely important to have adequate information about caloric content at the point of purchase to make healthier, more informed choices and to combat increasing obesity rates. The Houston DINEs (Dining Information & Nutrition Education) campaign provides this type of information and more to residents in Houston, Texas.

The campaign, launched July 2010, is spearheaded by spokesperson Dr. James T. Willerson, and The Biggest Loser contestants Cherita and Victoria Andrews, a mother/daughter duo who successfully lost over 250 lbs combined because of their awareness about the importance of adopting healthier lifestyles. Houston DINEs believes that if residents, similar to Victoria and Cherita, are educated about healthier food options, they will be able to make healthier life choices.

You’re the Cure advocates have been contacting their city council members to raise awareness among legislators as well. Advocates recognize that city leaders can do a lot to promote healthy lifestyles and need to be part of the solution to combating obesity in Houston.

As the campaign continues forward, follow all of the latest news and tips on the Houston DINEs blog-

Keep up the good work Houston!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Progress in Policy!

The American Heart Association has launched a new interactive online report highlighting major federal, state and local policy victories for FY ’09 – ’10. Progress in Policy outlines advances in legislative and regulatory issues that benefit heart disease and stroke patients and their loved ones – health reform, research and prevention funding, tobacco control, emergency cardiac care and stroke systems of care.

The articles, videos and photos in this interactive report provide an insider’s view of the remarkable work of our You’re the Cure advocates, volunteers and staff including those who met with lawmakers, testified at state capitol and congressional hearings and responded to alerts and calls to action with thousands of calls and emails to their representatives. Thanks to their tireless efforts, we have moved closer to our goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% and reducing death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by the year 2020.

Monday, August 23, 2010

National Physical Activity Plan Provides Roadmap for Community Change

The American Heart Association is one of 15 chairs leading implementation of the National Physical Activity Plan -- an effort to motivate people in every community to become and stay physically active, and to remove the barriers that may stand in their way.

Released this past spring, the Plan focuses on increasing physical activity in places where Americans live, work, learn and play through environmental and policy change. It unites professionals across sectors – in medicine and public health, transportation and urban planning, business, education and recreation – to help individuals integrate physical activity into their daily lives.

“The Plan aims to create a national culture that supports physically active lifestyles. Its ultimate purpose is to improve health, prevent disease and disability, and enhance quality of life,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “Most people know that physical activity is a key to good health. But getting moving is often easier said than done. The National Physical Activity Plan provides a roadmap to help put Americans on the path toward healthy living.”
The Plan is a comprehensive set of policies, programs, and initiatives that aim to increase physical activity in all segments of the American population. The Plan is the product of a private-public sector collaborative. Hundreds of organizations are working together to change our communities in ways that will enable every American to achieve the recommended physical activity levels of 30 minutes per day for adults and 60 minutes for children.

The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan is comprised of recommendations that are organized in eight societal sectors. AHA is a co-leader of the Business and Industry sector of the implementation plan. Components of this part of the plan include:

Identifying and summarizing best practices and model interventions in the workplace, establishing the Plan as an industry leading “go-to” resource, and evaluate effective physical activity interventions in the workplace. The Business and Industry Sector will also develop and implement an integrated communications and outreach plan in order to engage, inform and inspire business and industry leaders to champion physical activity intervention best practices in their own organizations, throughout their industries, and in their local communities and the group will work on developing legislation and policy agendas that promote employer-sponsored physical activity programs while protecting individual employees’ and dependents’ rights. The AHA will also help support strategies in other sectors of the Plan. Communities across the nation are already taking action to make the healthy choice, the easy choice.

The American Heart Association has been driving efforts to increase physical activity in the workplace with the Start! Friendly-Fit Companies program. Now, more employers and workers are creating a healthier environment on the job to improve physical activity with comprehensive workplace wellness programs. Such programs boost productivity and reduce absenteeism and healthcare costs. The Start! program intends to reach out to other communities to start a legacy of physical activity for all Americans.

AHA also supports efforts to boost physical activity among children. The association strongly backs the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act, federal legislation that would ensure children are receiving quality physical education. This policy requires the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to make physical education a priority in the schools’ curriculum. Locally, AHA is aggressively pursuing state policies that would require that children receive physical education as part of a well-rounded curriculum.With more walking and biking paths, comprehensive workplace wellness programs and school and community partnerships, we can build physical activity into the lives of all Americans and dramatically reduce risk factors for chronic diseases. For more information on how to get involved please visit the National Physical Activity Plan web site:

Monday, August 16, 2010

August Recess Challenge!

Senators heard your message: they did the responsible thing for our kids and passed the Child Nutrition Act before adjourning for recess.

But now that Members of Congress are beginning their August Recess, we need to make sure the House of Representatives doesn’t forget they have unfinished business on Capitol Hill- Passage of the Child Nutrition Act!

Our Representatives need to see that when schools and Congress are back in session this fall, millions of kids will be counting on them to take action to make cafeterias and classrooms healthier places.

So, help us show them! Deliver the Child Nutrition photo petition to your Representative today- either virually, or in-person. It's easy!

1) Virtual delivery: Click here to send our Child Nutrition photo petition link to your Rep. Don't foget to personalize your message and encourage family and friends to take action too!

2) In-person delivery: You can print off a copy of the Child Nutrition photo petition to drop-off at your Representative's district office. Just visit your Representative's website to find the district office closest to you and stop-by with your petition copy in hand. Don't forget to include a personal note on the back, including your name and address.

With one out of three kids in this country struggling with childhood obesity, the need to provide our kids with healthier options is immediate. The Child Nutrition Act will strengthen nutrition standards for school meals and expand opportunities for physical activity- but we will only see these provisions become a reality if the House of Representatives passes the bill.

Thank you for doing your part to keep the health of our kids at the forefront of your Representative’s mind during August Recess!

Monday, August 2, 2010

New York Hikes Cigarette Tax to Highest in Nation

Dressed in red on March 15, New York You’re the Cure advocates met with over forty legislative offices to voice their support for increasing the state’s cigarette tax- and their show of support worked!

Starting on July 1, the state’s cigarette tax increased by $1.60, making the total tax per pack $4.35, the highest in the nation. It is estimated this will encourage over 100,000 adult smokers to quit and prevent over 170,000 kids from ever beginning this deadly habit. The budget bill also includes language to curb cigarette tax evasion. And to encourage smokers to kick the habit rather than switch to lower priced tobacco products, the budget also includes the following:

-Increases the tax on other tobacco products - like cigars, chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco - from 46 percent to 75 percent of wholesale price;
-Increases the tax on snuff from $0.96 per ounce to $2.00 per ounce; and
-Imposes a tax on "little cigars" at a rate equivalent to the cigarette tax rate.

Numerous volunteers from throughout the state also helped secure this victory by writing letters to their local papers and calling their legislators to express their support for a high cigarette tax. Congratulations to New York You’re the Cure advocates for achieving this important legislative victory, and helping New York become the highest tax per pack state in the nation!

News from the Hill- Appropriations Process is Underway

Congressional appropriators have begun deciding how federal budget resources will be spent in the year ahead, including making decisions about funding for research and prevention programs. It can be a long and confusing process, and we wanted to give you a sense of how things will unfold.

In mid-July, a House of Representatives subcommittee approved their version of the bill that sets funding levels for many of the programs important to the American Heart Association. A comparable Senate subcommittee and the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved their version of the funding bill last week. The full House Appropriations Committee has yet to take action. Eventually, Members from the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will be assigned to a conference committee to work out any differences between their two bills. That final negotiated bill will have to be approved by the full House and Senate before it can be sent onto the President for his signature.

It is expected that this process will not be completed until late 2010 or even early 2011, but there will be opportunities for you to continue taking action to help secure the highest funding levels for heart disease and stroke research, prevention and treatment programs. Though many of the proposed funding levels have not been made public, we do know that thanks to your help, the House Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations Committee each approved $32 billion for the National Institutes of Health, which supports heart and stroke research. This is lower than the amount we requested, but in this challenging fiscal environment, it’s a step in the right direction. When the need arises to remind lawmakers that fighting heart disease and stroke must be a priority, you can expect to hear from You’re the Cure!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

American Heart Association’s Successful Federal Advisory Committee Appointments

During the past year, the American Heart Association secured the appointments of volunteers to several federal advisory committees to help address the needs of heart disease and stroke patients. These committees include:

  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Effective Health Care Stakeholders Group, which develops evidence on the effectiveness and comparative effectiveness of different treatments and healthcare interventions of importance to the Medicare, Medicaid and State Child Health Insurance programs;
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee, which advises the Department of Health and Human Services and CMS on whether medical items and services are “reasonable and necessary” for Medicare coverage; and
  • The Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, which advises the FDA commissioner on the regulation of tobacco products. The committee reviews and evaluates safety, dependence and health issues relating to tobacco.