Category Archives: National Public Health Week

Apr 10 2014
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PHLR Infographics: A Look at How Research is Improving Public Health Laws

Happy National Public Health Week! All week we've been sharing stories on the value of public health across all aspects of life, and all ages and stages.

Public Health Law Research (PHLR), a grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has also been participating in the week by contributing graphics and posts on the particular role of public health law—when backed by evidence and grounded in research—to save lives and make a difference. Below, we are highlighting some of the critical statistics PHLR has shared, along with some context on the research behind the numbers.

Child Seat Safety

Today, every state has a law requiring children to be restrained in federally-approved child safety seats while riding in motor-vehicles. These laws differ from state to state based on number of factors (e.g., age, height and weight of the children requiring safety seats). All current child safety seat laws allow for primary enforcement, meaning a police officer can stop a driver solely for a violation of such laws.

Lead Laws

In 1990 approximately 20 percent of all U.S. children had elevated levels of lead in their blood. However, only a decade later that percentage was down to 1.6 percent, thanks to public health laws researched and crafted to look out for the wellbeing of children. One of the most significant pieces of legislation was The Lead Contamination Control Act of 1988, which was already on the path to improving public health in 1990.

Watch this video on Philadelphia's lead court.

Sodium Laws

Eating too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, which raises the risk for heart disease and stroke—the first- and fourth-leading causes of death in this country. A variety of laws and legislatively enabled regulations attempt to reduce sodium in the food supply, including lowering the amount of salt in foods served in schools and child care facilities or purchased by state-regulated elder and health care facilities and prisons. Almost half of all U.S. states have laws to help reduce tghe sodium in processed foods.

Sports-Related Traumatic Brain Injuries

As many as 300,000 kids suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) from playing sports each year. TBIs can have serious short- and long-term health effects. Can public health law make a difference? The latest study finds that while all 50 states have laws in place to combat this problem, they haven't helped stop kids with concussions from playing. However, the research does help provide some context on how those laws have been implemented and how they might be revamped to work better.

Apr 10 2014
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National Public Health Week: Healthy Eating—There’s an App for That

Eat well. That’s today’s theme for National Public Health Week—and it’s good advice. After all, according to the American Public Health Association, Americans are now eating 31 percent more calories than we did 40 years ago, including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners. The average American eats 15 more pounds of sugar a year today than in 1970. 

There are new food-oriented websites and smartphone apps (many free) that can help people keep track of what foods they’re eating and what’s in those foods.

At the Milk Street Café in Boston, for example, the restaurant’s ordering site lets you filter the full menu into just the categories you want. Click low “fat” and the tailored breakfast menu leaves off the breakfast pastries and zooms in on the yogurt parfaits.

Other recent apps include:

  • Locavore, which points to farmers’ markets and produce stands in your neighborhood.
  • Harvest, which offers tips for choosing ripe produce.
  • Fooducate, a food database on your smartphone that includes basic nutrient and calorie information, plus high points of each food such as the fiber quantify of crackers.
  • Substitutions, an app finds alternatives when you can’t use the ingredient in the original recipe because of an allergy or other dietary restriction. Popular tip: Swap in fat-free yogurt when the recipe calls for fat-free sour cream to save calories.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture hosts the Food Access Research Atlas, which presents a spatial overview of food access indicators for low-income and other census tracts using different measures of supermarket accessibility. The app is valuable for community planning and research.
Apr 9 2014
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National Public Health Week: ‘Get Out Ahead’

NewPublicHealth continues its coverage of National Public Health Week with today’s theme—“Get Out Ahead” on prevention.

According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), seven in 10 deaths in the United States are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. And while 75 percent of U.S. health care dollars are spent treating such diseases, only 3 percent of health care dollars go toward prevention.

The APHA says there are now more options than ever when it comes to preventive health measures and that public health and clinical health professionals must work collaboratively to help individuals identify and pursue the best preventative health options.

A strong way to help prevent disease and premature death is to add health observance dates such as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National HIV Testing Day to personal and community calendars.

Healthfinder.gov, a website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lists health observance days, weeks and months which can steer people toward information and resources. Health observances often include community screenings such as blood pressure and cholesterol checks, making it easy to have those tests on a weekend in your neighborhood. Those checks include resources guiding people to community care if tests show a potential health problem.

A critical observance in April is Alcoholism Awareness Month. Decades of data shows that drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of health-related injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease and some types of cancer.

Actions communities are taking in observance of Alcoholism Awareness Month include:

  • Partnering with a local high school or youth organization to host an event about alcohol abuse prevention.
  • Alcohol-free community block parties.
  • Many local health clinics will offer free or low-cost screenings for alcohol abuse on National Alcohol Screening Day (April 11).

Many police stations are hosting Family Information Nights about the dangers of drinking and driving. Activities include special goggles that let kids and teens see how drinking can impact their vision behind the wheel.

Apr 7 2014
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National Public Health Week 2014: Q&A with Georges Benjamin, APHA

Each year during the first week of April, the American Public Health Association (APHA) hosts National Public Health Week, an opportunity to help communities across the United States highlight issues that are critical to improving the health of the nation. This year’s theme is “Public Health: Start Here”—entry points for making us a healthier nation. Each day this week has its own theme and NewPublicHeatlth will have a post about each one:

  • Monday, April 7Be healthy from the start. From maternal health and school nutrition to emergency preparedness, public health starts at home. Let us show you around. (Read a previous NewPublicHealth post, County Health Rankings — Nurse-Family Partnership: Q&A with Elly Yost, about how Rockingham County, N.C. is working to improve maternal health.)
  • Tuesday, April 8Don't panic. Disaster preparedness starts with community-wide commitment and action. We're here to help you weather the unexpected.
  • Wednesday, April 9Get out ahead. Prevention is now a nationwide priority. Let us show you where you fit in.
  • Thursday, April 10Eat well. The system that keeps our nation's food safe and healthy is complex. We can guide you through the choices.
  • Friday, April 11Be the healthiest nation in one generation. Best practices for community health come from around the globe. 

In observance of National Public Health Week, NewPublicHealth spoke with Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association about National Public Health Week 2014.

NewPublicHealth: Tell us about the 2014 National Public Health Week.

Georges Benjamin: We have an overarching theme, and it’s “Public Health: Start Here.” The intent is to get people to “just do it.” Often all of us have a tendency to kind of ruminate over what we want to do to improve the public’s health, and what we’re trying to emphasize this year is that there is enormous opportunity for people just to get up and do it. The evidence base is there, the opportunity is there, and so we’re just getting people to start improving their health.

We have five themes for the week. Monday is around early health such as maternal and child health; school nutrition; and conversations at home about how to make every family healthier. Tuesday is focused on emergency preparedness and disaster preparedness. On Wednesday we’ll be on prevention, including clinical and community preventive health services. Thursday’s focus is on eating well with a focus on the nutritional aspects of health. And Friday we look at becoming the healthiest nation in just one generation. Like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Public Health Association is focused on a creating a culture of health and creating a healthy environment for everyone.

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Apr 4 2013
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NPHW Picks Infographic Contest Winners

"The Happy, Healthy Workplace" - See below for full infographic.

As part of this year’s National Public Health Week, APHA and Piktochart came together to co-host the NPHW Infographic Contest encouraging health departments, federal agencies, student clubs and even individuals to create visuals based on the week’s theme: “Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money.”  

Well now the contest is over and APHA has selected the top four, each of which earned free admission to the upcoming 2013 APHA Annual Meedting in Boston this November.

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Apr 1 2013
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Public Health News Roundup: April 1

National Public Health Week Events: ‘Public Health is ROI: Saves Lives, Saves Money’
"Public Health is ROI: Saves Lives, Saves Money" is the theme of this year’s National Public Health Week, from April 1 to 7. By emphasizing prevention and ensuring strong public health systems, public health helps to saves lives and stop diseases before they have a chance to happen. The end result is improved public health and reduced health care spending, meaning those valuable financial resources can go toward strengthening other aspects of a community. Communities and public health schools across the county are celebrating the week and spreading the messages of public health. Read more about National Public Health Week.

WHO: Strain of Bird Flu Kills Two in China; Third Person Infected
While a strain of bird flu has taken the lives of two Chinese men, there is at the moment no evidence to show it can be transmitted from person to person, according to the World Health Organization. The men died in February; a third person, a woman, is in critical condition. The H7N9 virus had previously infected only animals. "At this point, these three are isolated cases with no evidence of human-to-human transmission", said Michael O'Leary, MD, the WHO representative in China. "A new virus tends to be more virulent in the beginning. Either it is going to become a truly human virus, in which case we have to start dealing with it regularly, or it is going to be primarily an animal virus with just a rare human case." Read more on infectious disease.

Given Disease Labels for Children, Many Parents Push for Ineffective Medications
When it comes to doctors insisting sick infants don’t need medication, many parents refuse to take that “no” as an answer, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics. Instead when given a simple disease label they often push for medications that won’t actually have any effect. Researchers say this demonstrates how simple disease labels can influence parents’ decision-making and shows the importance of good communication. "The disease label seems to send the message that there is an illness that requires medical treatment," said lead author Laura Scherer, an assistant professor in the department of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri. "But, depending on the situation, medical treatments may be necessary, or not. In the case of [gastroesophageal reflux disease], an otherwise healthy infant probably will not benefit from medication. So in this case [that] label can be misleading." Read more on infant and maternal health.

Apr 1 2013
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National Public Health Week 2013: Q&A with Georges C. Benjamin

Georges Benjamin, American Public Health Association

It’s that time of year when public health enthusiasts rejoice and remind the rest of the world why this field is so critical—this is National Public Health Week, a yearly observance since 1995. For 2013, the theme is "Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money." According to the American Public Health Association, (APHA), a key organizer of the yearly observance, this year’s theme was developed to highlight the value of prevention and the importance of well-supported public health systems in preventing disease, saving lives and curbing health care spending.

In honor of National Public Health Week, NewPublicHealth spoke with Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of the APHA.

NewPublicHealth: Is this the first time that National Public Health Week has focused on the return on investment in public health?

Dr. Benjamin: I think it’s the first time we’ve done so directly. There’s no question that we have always talked about the value of public health and we’ve often talked about savings, but this is the first time we’ve really focused like a laser on that investment.

NPH: What reaction have you seen in states and local communities to this year’s theme?

Read more

Apr 4 2011
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Join the #NPHW Conversation All Week

Today’s kickoff of National Public Health Week is driving a lot of dynamic exchanges on Twitter. You can follow and contribute to the conversation there by using the hashtag #nphw. You can also follow it right here on NewPublicHealth. This post will update dynamically throughout the week, pulling in all the #nphw tweets. As always, follow @RWJF_PubHealth on Twitter for public health information and discussion.

Apr 4 2011
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National Public Health Week Begins Today

The American Public Health Association is sponsoring National Public Health Week, beginning today. The theme this year: Safety Is NO Accident: Live Injury Free. The campaign brings attention to the various types of prevalent injuries that affect our public health.

Some of APHA’s U.S. injury statistics are truly startling:

  • Nearly 150,000 people die from injuries every year.
  • Some 30 million people are injured severely enough each year to go to an emergency room.
  • Preventable injuries are among the top ten causes of death for people of all ages.

APHA has put together a useful calendar of safety events being held this week across the country.

A sample of community prevention programs:

  • Lecture on the creation of National Public Health Week at the University of Maryland at College Park.
  • Panel discussion on domestic partner violence in Portland, Ore.
  • Booster seat education program and giveaway in New Britain, Conn.
  • Display of injury-prevention posters created by school children in Chicago, Ill.

 

For more on National Public Health Week, see this interesting post on the Public Health Law Network blog by Jon Vernick, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. He discusses the role of legislation in preventing injuries and gives some detail on the Mobile Safety Center that is touring the country right now. As he points out, the public health community is making inroads in the fight against preventable injuries, but there is still much work to be done.

We’ve learned a great deal since 1988 about how to prevent injuries. For example, in 1988 there were 47,000 road traffic deaths in the U.S. In figures just announced April 1st, that total fell to less than 33,000 in 2010, a drop of about 30%.

WEIGH IN: What is your community doing to help promote injury prevention this week?