Public Health News Roundup: September 4
September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, a critical observance since over the past 30 years the childhood obesity rate in America has almost tripled, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 qualified as obese. Children and teenagers who are obese are more likely to become obese adults with serious adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, certain types of cancer and osteoarthritis. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years should spend 60 minutes or more being physical active each day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommend balancing calories with physical activity and encourages Americans to consume more healthy foods such as vegetables; fruits; whole grains; fat-free and low-fat dairy products; and seafood. It also recommends they consume less sodium; saturated and trans fats; added sugars; and refined grains. Read more on obesity.
Secondhand Smoke Exposure May Extend Stay for Kids Hospitalized with Flu
A recent Journal of Pediatrics study on about 100 children hospitalized for flu found that those children who had been previously exposed to secondhand smoke were five times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit and required a 70 percent longer stay in the hospital, compared to kids who’d had no exposure to tobacco smoke. Read more on tobacco.
Humvees Account for High Percentage of Military Crashes
A new study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers finds that U.S. soldiers are at greatest for risk for injury in a Humvee crash if they are the driver or gunner. That finding is important say the researchers because, according to the U.S. Department of the Army, motor vehicle crashes account for nearly one-third of all U.S. military deaths each year and are among the top five causes of hospitalization for military personnel. According to the Hopkins study, which was published in the journal Military Medicine, nearly half of vehicle crashes in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq from 2002 through 2006 were in Humvees. The researchers found that the odds of being injured in a Humvee accident are greatest when the crash occurred in combat. “[That finding] indicates that in a high-stress situation, the soldier may be distracted or less likely to take self-protective measures or follow safety regulations,” said study co-author Susan P. Baker, MPH, a professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. Read more on the military and public health.