Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown says CDC Report on Children’s Food Environment Underscores Need for Strong Public Policies

April 26, 2011

Our nation’s youth face major roadblocks to good health with easy access to calorie-laden snacks, sugary beverages and other unhealthy foods in their schools and communities. With about 1 out of every 6 children in the U.S. considered obese, we are condemning our kids to a bleak future of premature health problems such as type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. The CDC Report: Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report is a painful reminder that many children continue to lack access to fruits, vegetables and nutritious food close to home. We must place a greater emphasis on making healthier food choices more accessible and affordable, particularly for families living in food deserts where the nearest supermarket could be miles away and for those surrounded by fast food restaurants or corner stores with less healthy offerings.

Parents, schools, child-care facilities and communities have the potential to improve the health of young people by providing the tools they need to learn lifelong healthy behaviors. By strengthening nutrition standards in schools, pre-schools and day care settings, we can help limit kids’ exposure to unhealthy options. We must also support measures to reduce sodium and eliminate trans fat in the food supply, increase community and school gardens, reduce children’s exposure to marketing and advertising of unhealthy foods and require calorie information to be displayed on menus and menu boards in all restaurants.

Strong public policies and community programs to increase access to healthy foods will help children develop heart-healthy eating habits that could significantly reduce childhood obesity rates across the country.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A trans-fat-less Illinois in our future?

From Pioneer Press - A Chicago Sun-Times Publication

April 21, 2011

Every once in a while Illinois legislators come up with a good idea.

This time, the House has passed a bill that would ban the use of trans fats in restaurants, movie theaters, bakeries and cafes, as well as food sold in school vending machines.

If the Senate OKs the bill and Gov. Pat Quinn signs it, the law would take effect in 2013. Illinois would be only the second state (after California) to take such an action.

Whoa, slow down there, pardner, before you start raging about the government sticking its nose into your private business.

Believe me, you don't care a thing about trans fats

It isn't trans fats you love. No, it's french fries, and pizza and chocolate doughnuts.

None of these foods -- or any other foods -- depends on trans fats for their taste. Trans fast don't have taste and don't add taste.

Trans fat comes from adding hydrogen to vegetable oil by a process called hydrogenation. There's nothing gourmetical (is that a word?) about it.

Trans fats are created because they are more solid than oil. This makes trans fats less likely to spoil. So, using trans fats in manufacturing food gives food a longer shelf life. This means more profit for food manufacturers.

That would be fine, except that trans fats not only raise bad cholesterol (LDL), they lower good cholesterol (HDL). And this combo increases the risk of coronary heart disease, which is the leading killer of men and women.

The tragedy is that there is no necessity for taking this risk.

As I already said, trans fats add nothing to the taste of food. If it did, you could order a pizza with extra trans fat. Ever hear of that?

In addition, there are all kinds of oils and shortenings and cooking ingredients available that don't contain trans fat.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.
Yet, who knows, perhaps there is a trans fat lobby somewhere fighting the proposed Illinois law. I wouldn't be surprised.

Seems pretty clear, though, that from a consumer perspective: Get rid of trans fats.
Let's hope Illinois legislators continue their enlightened approach and that the bill becomes law.
I could go for a cheese danish right about now.

Couldn't you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Parents want more phys ed in schools: new national poll

Apr.19, 2011

Childhood obesity affects 1 of every 6 kids in the United States, in part due to a lack of physical activity. Schools can play a key part in offering elementary-age kids lots of chances to be active—on the playground during recess and when they’re in gym.

But recent increasing expectations about academic achievement, coupled with budget cuts, have prompted many schools to cut back on both recess and gym class.

The U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked parents of children 6 to 11 years old for their views about physical activity in schools.

“Parents are virtually unanimous that it’s very important for elementary-school kids to get physical activity during every school day,” says Sarah Clark, M.P.H., associate director of the poll and associate director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit at the U-M Medical School . “However, one-third of parents think that their kids do not get enough physical activity at school.”

35 percent of parents feel their children’s elementary schools have too little time in gym class, 26 percent think there is not enough playground equipment and 22 percent say there is too little time for recess.

“Academic and budget pressures threaten schools’ ability to provide outlets and opportunities for children’s physical activity. Many parents are noticing that something is missing,” says Clark.
Another key result from this poll is that parents’ own weight is related to perceptions of the need for schools to help children be physically active. With regard to time for gym, playground equipment, time for recess and playground space, overweight and obese parents were more likely than other parents to say their kids did not have enough during the school day.

“This is a new insight at the national level, indicating that parents with their own weight challenges are even more likely to see schools as a key partner in addressing the risks of obesity for their own kids,” says Clark.

“School officials should note the strong support from parents for the importance of physical activity during the school day for children in the elementary grades,” continues Clark. “Parents see many reasons why physical activity is valuable for their children—not just in preventing obesity but also in promoting healthy physical development. For parents of children in elementary school, it is critically important that children get the physical activity they need during the school day.”

For full report, see link below.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Urgent Action Needed: Stop Smoking-Expansion Bill in the IL Senate!

We need your immediate help. The Illinois House recently passed HB 1965, a bill which would chip away at the landmark Smoke-Free Illinois law by allowing smoking in casinos. This bill would create huge costs to the physical health and financial wellbeing of patrons and casino workers alike, as incidents of heart disease and expensive hospitalizations would surely rise. We have previously asked you to contact your Representative, and we thank you for answering our call. Now we need your help again. Please urge your Senator to make sure that this dangerous bill does not make it to the Governor’s desk.

Please tell your Senator to put people’s health ahead of casino and liquor interests by voting NO on House Bills 1965.

HB 1965 would exempt casinos from the law, putting countless Illinois workers and patrons at risk. This proposal is outrageous, and it is dangerous. It is wrong for our state to sanction behavior that would really harm people in order to bring in revenue. (They should consider raising tobacco taxes instead!).

Please ask your Senator to save lives and protect Smoke-free Illinois.

Remind him or her that there is no public support to weaken Smoke-Free Illinois. An April 2010 statewide poll of registered voters showed 84% support for Smoke Free Illinois, including casinos and private clubs. Few other policies enacted in recent memory enjoy such widespread support! Furthermore, 82% of Illinois residents don’t even smoke!

Thank you for your immediate action on this very important issue!