Category Archives: Poverty

May 17 2012

Public Health News Roundup: May 17

Higher Education, Income Levels Lead to Better Health

People with higher levels of education and income have lower rates of many chronic diseases compared to those with less education and lower income levels, according to Health, United States, 2011—the annual report on Americans’ health, produced by the National Center for Health Statistics.

This year’s report includes a special section on socioeconomic status and health. Findings include:

  • In 2007-2010, higher levels of education among the head of household resulted in lower rates of obesity among boys and girls ages two through 19, compared to families where the heads of households who had less than a high school education.
  • In 2007-2010, women 25 years of age and over with less than a bachelor’s degree were more likely to be obese (39 percent-43 percent) than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (25 percent).
  • In 2010, 31 percent of adults 25-64 years of age with a high school diploma or less education were current smokers, compared with 24 percent of adults with some college and 9 percent of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Between 1996-2006, the gap in life expectancy at age 25 between those with less than a high school education and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by 1.9 years for men and 2.8 years for women.

Read more on poverty and health.

Arthritis Foundation Releases Report on Physical Activity

The Arthritis Foundation has released a new report, Environmental and Policy Strategies to Increase Physical Activity among Adults with Arthritis, to help increase physical activity among people with arthritis. The new report is aimed at health agencies, businesses, recreation facilities, and others to help meet the exercise needs of people with the condition.

Arthritis affects 50 million adults in the United States—more than 20 percent of the adult population and that number is expected to grow. According to the report, people with arthritis have disease-specific barriers to being physically active including pain, fear of making their arthritis worse, lack of knowledge about the best type and amount of exercise, and fear of injury. Physical activity, however, has been shown to help decrease pain, delay the onset of disability, improve physical functioning and independence, and enhance the mood and quality of life for adults with arthritis. Read more on physical activity.

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May 10 2012

Public Health News Roundup: May 10

FDA Issues Draft Recommendations to Improve Imaging Safety in Kids

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released draft guidance for the x-ray manufacturing industry recommending that new X-ray imaging devices be designed with protocols and instructions specific to children, or include a label that the machine is not intended for pediatric use.

According to the FDA, the use of X-ray equipment settings designed for adults can result in a larger radiation dose than necessary to produce a useful image for a smaller pediatric patient. The FDA will hold a workshop in July to discuss the draft guidance.

USDA Awards Grants to Increase Farmers' Market Participation in SNAP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the availability of grants to help states expand the availability of wireless technology in farmers' markets not currently participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps. Farmers' markets typically don't have access to phone lines or electricity, making it difficult for them to redeem SNAP benefits electronically. There are currently more than 1,500 farmers' markets that do have the technology to accept SNAP benefits electronically, and since 2008, SNAP expenditures at farmers' markets have risen by 400 percent.

The USDA National Farmers Market Directory lists farmers markets that accept SNAP and other federal nutrition programs.

Some New York Hospitals to Stop Giving Free Baby Formula Samples

The New York Times is reporting that the New York City health department began a campaign this week urging hospitals not to give mothers free samples of baby formula, in an effort to support and encourage breast-feeding. Under the new campaign, in which 23 New York City hospitals are participating so far, the hospitals will not give formula samples unless the mother asks for it or the doctor orders it. Read more on maternal and infant health.

Apr 26 2012

Public Health News Roundup: April 26

Health Hazard Warning Labels Help Keep Ex-Smokers Away From Cigarettes

Warnings on cigarette packages about the health hazards of smoking may keep ex-smokers from starting to smoke again, according to a study in the journal Tobacco Control. The findings are based on results of a survey taken among 2,000 former smokers in Canada, Australia, Britain and the US.

Read more on tobacco.

New, Occasional Prescription Drug Abusers Often Get Their Drugs from Friends, Family

The Office of National Drug Control Policy has released an analysis of data from the 2009 and 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that finds that the majority of new or occasional nonmedical users of pain relievers got the drug from family or friends for free or took them without asking. In contrast, frequent or chronic users (those who used pain relievers non-medically once a week or more on average in the past year) were more likely to obtain the drug from doctors or by buying them themselves.

Read a recent NewPublicHealth interview with the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy R. Gil Kerlikowske about the National Prevention Strategy.

To help Americans dispose of any unneeded medications in their homes, the Drug Enforcement Administration will host its fourth National Take Back Day on Saturday, April 28th, at over 5,000 collection sites across the United States.

Read more on prescription drug abuse.

In Recent Years Poverty Rates Have Increased Among Oldest Americans

A new report from the Employment Benefit Research Institute finds that between 2005–2009, the rate of poverty among American seniors rose as they aged. Almost 15 percent of those older than age 85 were in poverty in 2009, compared with approximately 10.5 percent of those older than 65, Additionally, in 2009, 6 percent of those age 85 older were new entrants in poverty.

Read more on poverty.

See more public health news roundups.

Apr 10 2012

Tackling Health's Great Challenges at TEDMED

The TEDMED conference kicks off today, bringing together leaders from a wide array of medical, health innovation and other disciplines to explore the future of health and medicine. TEDMED’s Great Challenges Program, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), will explore the most intractable and most complex health challenges facing the world today. The Challenges chosen range from childhood obesity to Alzheimer’s, from stress to superbugs, and are deeply rooted problems in health and medicine with multiple, interconnected causes and pathways to solutions.

Public health-focused challenges on the docket include “making prevention popular and profitable,” “the impact of poverty on health,” “reducing school violence and bullying,” and “promoting active lifestyles” by building neighborhoods that make physical activity easier.

TEDMED has now identified a set of 50 Great Challenges that it is presenting to the TEDMED community, where attendees and others following the conference will vote to narrow the list to the most pressing 20. The program is designed to be a catalyst for dialogue and discussion to promote new ideas and new thinking.

Here's how you can join the conversation on the Great Challenges:

  • If you’re at TEDMED, stop by the RWJF social space during the conference’s Social Breaks on Wednesday and Thursday (check the program for specific times for each Challenge).
  • Download the app, TEDMED Connect (free download available in the iTunes and Android app store, and can be viewed as a mobile website).
  • E-mail with your thoughts and ideas.
  • Follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TEDMEDchallenges

Find out more about how you can take part in the conversation.

Mar 14 2012

David Law: "Determined to Bring Healthy Choices Into Our Neighborhoods"

file David Law, Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation

In Detroit, Michigan, the Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation has developed a targeted approach to promoting health equity, based on the four factors measured by the County Health Rankings: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. Despite its location in one of the most racially segregated cities in the country, with poor public transportation, high poverty and unemployment, and vast food deserts, the Joy-Southfield neighborhood has become a hub of partnerships and activities aimed at long-term health improvement. Several community groups and funders have collaborated to empower youth through mentoring and community garden projects; renovate vacant properties to attract new businesses; improve community safety; provide job training and foreclosure prevention services and more.

NewPublicHealth spoke with David Law, PhD, Executive Director at Joy-Southfield, about the program.

NewPublicHealth: Tell us about the Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation. How did your priorities evolve, and how did the County Health Rankings help shape them?

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Mar 14 2012

Public Health News Roundup: March 14

HUD Awards $201 Million For New Local Homeless Programs

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $201 million to support 731 new local homeless programs across the U.S. The funding will provide emergency shelters, transitional housing and permanent support for individuals and families. Read more on the connection between housing and health.

NIH and Drug Firm to Generate Public Resource of Approved and Investigational Drugs

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Eli Lilly and Company will generate a publicly available resource to profile the effects of thousands of approved and investigational medicines.

The NIH's newly established National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences collection of 3,800 approved and investigational medicines will be screened using Lilly’s advanced testing systems to assess their biological profiles. This could enable biomedical researchers to better predict treatment outcomes and improve drug development, according to an NIH release. Read more on prescription drugs.

CDC Finds Too Few Young Women Tested for Chlamydia

Just 38 percent of sexually active young women were screened for chlamydia between 2006 and 2008, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends annual screening for all sexually active women aged 25 and under. Read more on sexual health.

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Mar 8 2012

Public Health News Roundup: March 8

Critical Rise in Army Suicides

Suicides among U.S. soldiers rose 80 percent from 2004 to 2008, according to a study in the journal Injury Prevention. While 40 percent of the suicides may have been linked to combat experience in Iraq, nearly a third of the soldiers who committed suicide were not in combat, according to the study. The researchers also found that rates of suicide among Army personnel from 1977 to 2003 were similar to trends in the general population, but in 2004 suicides started to increase quickly, outpacing the suicide rates among civilians by 2008. Read more on military health.

HIV Treatment in First Year of Life Needed to Avoid Cognitive Impairment in Children

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health finds that treating HIV in order to avoid brain impairment may have a window of just the first year of life. Treatment begun later than that may not have as significant results in avoiding cognitive impairment. Read more HIV news.

Over Thirty Percent of U.S. Families Struggle with Medical Bills

One-third of American families are having trouble paying for health care, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Data for the first six months of 2011 found that one in five families had difficulty paying medical bills, one in four pays bills over time and one in 10 can't pay medical bills at all. Read more on access to health care.

Feb 28 2012

Mobilizing Communities Toward Better Health, Income and Education: Q&A With United Way's Brian Gallagher

BrianGallagher Brian Gallagher, United Way Worldwide

United Way Worldwide has evolved from its roots as a fundraising organization to a critical community convener that mobilizes local partners, including businesses, community leaders, public officials and community residents, to expand opportunities for people to live healthy, quality lives. United Way focuses on three key building blocks: a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health. With support from United Way Worldwide, 12 United Ways across the country have formed the United Way network’s first Health Mobilization Group. This peer-learning community will use the County Health Rankings framework to work with the residents, external experts and stakeholders to drive systems change to improve health and health equity in their communities.

NewPublicHealth will conduct an in-depth series on the work of United Way on the ground to improve health, education and income. The series will include Q&As with thought leaders as well as those advancing initiatives at the community level: the leaders in local United Way organizations and their communities. We kick off this series with a conversation with United Way Worldwide President and CEO, Brian Gallagher, MBA, about the organization’s priorities, key partners and methods for mobilizing communities for social change.

NewPublicHealth: United Way focuses on three key issues: education, income and health. Why are these the most critical issues, and how do they work together to impact quality of life?

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Feb 20 2012

Public Health News Roundup: February 20

WHO: Researchers May Publish Bird Flu Studies

The New York Times is reporting that research on a mutated, more contagious form of the bird flu virus can be published in full despite concern that bioterrorists could use the information to start a pandemic. That decision was made during a special meeting of 22 bird flu experts in Geneva, Switzerland convened by the World Health Organization.

The Times reported that most of the researchers at the meeting felt that any theoretical terrorist risk was outweighed by the "real and present danger" of similar flu virus mutations occurring naturally in the wild, and by the need for the scientific community to share information that could help identify exactly when the virus might be developing the ability to spread more easily. The United States voted against publication. The research is expected to be published in Science and Nature at a future date. Read more on infectious disease.

More White Children Live in Low-Income Families

More than 12.1 million white children live in low-income families; compared to: 10.7 million Hispanic children; 6.5 million black children; 1 million Asian children; 400,000 American Indian children; and 1.3 million children of other race, according to recent research released by National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), based at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Calculating by percentages put black children at the top in term of low-income families: 64 percent of black children and 63 percent of Hispanic children lived in such families compared to 31 percent of white children.

Other statistics include:

  • Children represent 24 percent of the overall U.S. population, but 34 percent of all people living in poverty.
  • There are more than 72 million children under age 18 in the United States: of those, 31.9 million live in low-income families.
  • Low income ($44,700 for a family of four) is defined by NCCP as being twice the official federal poverty level ($22,350 for a family of four).
  • The percentage of children in low-income families is highest (48 percent) in the South, compared to 45 percent of children in the West; 42 percent in the Midwest; and 36 percent of children in the Northeast.

Among the strategies recommended by NCCP is for parents to get help on how to succeed in the labor force, which will in turn, help their children. A new initiative by the Department of Housing and Urban Development is focused on such help. Last Thursday the Department announced that it was making $95 million available through two grant programs that help residents who receive HUD rental assistance get the necessary education and job training to find jobs and increase their income. Read more on the health effects of poverty.

Jan 31 2012

Little Bets: A NewPublicHealth Q&A With Author Peter Sims


Peter Sims is a best-selling author and entrepreneur. His new book is Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries. As he describes them, “little bets” are low-risk actions or small steps taken to discover, develop, and test an idea. Sims found that successful big thinkers from across industries used this principle in their work, from the comedian Chris Rock who develops new comedy routines by making little bets with small audiences; to Army General H.R. McMaster who takes small bets and makes frequent adjustments in planning counterinsurgency strategies; to architect Frank Gehry who starts building plans on small scraps of paper. Sims draws on his training from Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the “d-school”) in using a design thinking to approach to problems: “generating ideas… based on building up solutions, rather than starting with the answer.”

Though the design thinking approach has applications for any field, the possibilities for public health are broad: experiment by taking small chances with small groups or small communities; immerse by getting out into the world and truly understanding what a population or community is experiencing; define specific problems and needs before trying to solve them; and iterate by frequently taking insights from the field and adjusting strategy accordingly. NewPublicHealth caught up with Peter Sims to get his take on “little bets” and how they might apply to public health.

NewPublicHealth: Why did you write this book? What inspired you to take on “Little Bets”?

Peter Sims: As I mentioned in the book, I had been exposed to this whole world of design thinking, and the method for building up ideas rather than starting with the answer, using things like prototyping or playful techniques. I was astonished that I had never learned to think that way before. I felt like it was a big problem. I hope that by writing the book that other people could benefit from it the same way I had benefitted from being exposed to this world through the Stanford Design School and also through the research the book took me on. My research spanned all these different ways of thinking, whether it was in the military or at Pixar or among comedians and entrepreneurs—they all had these parallels that I hadn’t realized before.

NPH: Thinking about the people you chose to profile—it ranges from Chris Rock to General McMaster to Frank Gehry—what brought these people to your attention?

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