Author Archives: NewPublicHealth

Hurricane Season Begins June 1

May 29, 2012, 7:42 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

Tropical Depression Beryl, which could hit South Carolina tomorrow with heavy rain gusts and windy conditions, is the storm the National Weather Service (NWS) is watching during Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 27 through June 1). The alerts sent out by NWS this week are worth reading both for people in that area, and for the public generally in order to become familiar with the firsthand weather reports released by the agency that often include vital preparedness warnings days before severe weather hits.

New this year for Hurricane Preparedness Week:

  • YouTube public service announcements on hurricane-related topics such as safety tips.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just released a planning guide and web portal for strategies to help identify and assist older adults living in the community during preparations for emergencies, including severe weather.

Resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on preparing for, coping with and recovering from a hurricane are available here.

>>Read more on public health preparedness.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.

Jo Ivey Boufford: Q&A at the National Network of Public Health Institutes Annual Conference

May 24, 2012, 4:41 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

Watch live streaming video from frbsf at

NewPublicHealth spoke with Dr. Boufford about the conference theme, “Leveraging Public Health Institutes for Systems Change.”

NPH: The theme of the conference is leveraging public health institutes for systems change. What systems do you think need changing to improve population health?

Dr. Boufford: I think there are really two major components to a public health system. One of them obviously is the governmental public health infrastructure—the public health agencies at state and local levels that are really charged to assure the health of the public, by detecting illness and promoting health information and trying to change environments so people can live in healthier communities. A lot of reports have shown that that part of the health system has historically been very under-invested in, and it needs to be shorn up. I think the national public health institutes should be strong advocates and partners of the governmental public health agencies in leveraging resources to improve population health.

The other part of the system is the personal health care system, which is and potentially will be undergoing dramatic change with the Accountable Care Act (ACA). There are a number of opportunities to get better population health impact out of the personal health care system, such as looking at the role of community health centers, of medical homes, of accountable care organization models to improve the health of a geographic community or particular population over time. So I would say those are the two big opportunities, and public health institutes in states need to work closely to take full advantage of the opportunities for populations.

NPH: What other key roles do you see public health institutes playing in improving population health?

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Injury Prevention: NewPublicHealth Q&A with Andrea Gielen

May 22, 2012, 2:22 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

file Andrea Gielen, Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

A new report on the burden of injuries in the United States, The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report, finds that 26 states scored a five or lower on a set of 10 key injury prevention indicators. Two states, California and New York, received the highest score of nine out of a possible 10, while three states scored the lowest—Kentucky, Montana and Ohio, with two out of 10.

Injuries are the third leading cause of death nationally, and they are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of one and 44.

The Facts Hurt report was issued by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and concludes that millions of injuries could be prevented each year if more states adopted additional research-based injury prevention policies, and if programs were fully implemented and enforced.

NewPublicHealth will be posting a series of injury prevention interviews with experts on issues such as motor vehicle safety and violence prevention. We recently spoke with Andrea Gielen, ScD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, about the importance of evidence-based research to help prevent.

NewPublicHealth: What studies are there to show that injuries can actually be prevented or reduced?

Andrea Gielen: I think that’s one of the things that’s very exciting about this report because answering that question is the backbone of the report. There are so many aspects of injury prevention where we have strong evidence. We know car seats, booster seats, motorcycle helmets, smoke alarms and seatbelts work. We know what kinds of legislation increase use and then increase protection, and therefore, will work to reduce injuries.

That’s what’s really exciting about looking forward is that injury prevention is at a place in its history where the science and the evidence and the practice are really there to say, look, if we have these kinds of strong laws and we enforce them and we make the public aware of them, we can really show a decrease in injuries. I think residential sprinklers and smoke alarms for fire safety is another example where we have a technology that we know works and recommendations that they be placed in all homes. So, how do we make that happen is still an important area that we should see more research around.

NPH: What is the hope for how this report will be used?

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Billie Weiss Q&A: Violence is Preventable

May 22, 2012, 2:20 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

file Billie Weiss, UCLA School of Public Health, Southern California Injury Prevention Research Program

A new report on the burden of injuries in the United States, The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report, was released today by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report concludes that millions of injuries could be prevented each year if more states adopted additional research-based injury prevention policies, and if programs were fully implemented and enforced.

According to the report, more than 18,000 Americans are murdered and more than 34,000 commit suicide each year. In addition, assaults are responsible for more than a million injuries annually.

  • Violence by intimate partners alone causes more than 2,000 deaths a year. Nearly three in 10 women and one in 10 men in the United States have experienced physical violence, rape or stalking by a partner.
  • More than 1,700 children die from abuse or neglect each year, and 80 percent of those are under four years old.
  • More than 15 people ages 10 to 24 die each day from some form of violence and more than 740,000 children and teens visit emergency rooms for injuries related to violence each year.

NewPublicHealth will be posting a series of injury prevention interviews with experts on issues such as motor vehicle safety and violence prevention. We recently spoke with Billie Weiss, MPH, associate director of the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center at the UCLA School of Public Health about preventing injuries and deaths caused by violent acts including intimate partner abuse, gang violence child abuse, bullying and firearms.

NewPublicHealth: Is violence preventable?

Billie Weiss: Absolutely. Violence, like any other public health condition, can be measured and monitored and we can design interventions, but we can also devise strategies that prevent violence from happening in the first place. Some of the things that we talk about include providing good, nurturing environments for children and families. That is both a violence prevention strategy as well as a strategy for preventing other forms of public health crisis and public health emergencies. So, providing good, healthy, nurturing families for children and confident parenting for parents helps to prevent violence.

The other issue about preventing violence is teaching people how to deal with anger and how to deal with frustrations.

NPH: How is the nation doing on violence prevention right now?

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Public Health Leaders Walk the Walk

May 18, 2012, 5:15 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth


U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, led a Walk for Wellness through the streets of the nation’s capital on Wednesday. The one-mile walk was organized by Federal Occupational Health, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides occupational health and wellness services to federal employees.

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports month—also “the month of persistence," said Benjamin. According to the Institute of Medicine, 69 percent of U.S. adults and 32 percent of children are either overweight or obese, costing the nation more than $140 billion a year in medical expenses. Dr. Benjamin urged everyone to, literally, walk the walk with her in incorporating more movement into each day.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.

WHO World Health Statistics: Growing Burden of Non-communicable Diseases

May 17, 2012, 3:07 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth


World Health Statistics 2012, a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows progress in some health problems that have vexed the developing world, such as maternal deaths in childbirth, but also highlights the growing problem of non-communicable diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. This is the first year that the report has tracked cases of diabetes and high blood pressure.

According to the WHO:

  • One in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure
  • One in 10 adults has diabetes
  • Half a billion people worldwide (12% of the world population) are obese

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Frank Chaloupka Q&A: Study Shows 2009 Federal Tobacco Tax Helped Cut Youth Smoking

May 10, 2012, 2:47 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

file Frank Chaloupka, University of Illinois at Chicago

A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that in the first 60 days following a 2009 federal tobacco tax, at least 220,000 young people were prevented from using tobacco. The research, which was published online today by the National Bureau of Economic Research and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Cancer Institute, demonstrates the substantial and immediate impact of the tobacco tax on reducing youth smoking and youth smokeless tobacco rates.

A 2009 law approved by Congress, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act , increased the federal tax rate on cigarettes by 61.66 cents per pack (from 39 cents to $1.0066 per pack) and on moist snuff, the most common form of smokeless tobacco, by 92.5 cents per pound (from 58.5 cents to $1.51 per pound). Taxes were also increased on other forms of smokeless tobacco.

NewPublicHealth spoke with study co-author Frank J. Chaloupka, PhD, distinguished professor in the division of Health Policy and Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.

NewPublicHealth: What were the key study findings?

Frank Chaloupka: We found that the 2009 federal tobacco tax increases led to significant reductions in the number of kids who smoke and who use smokeless tobacco products.

I think the study is really nice in that it shows how quickly the tax affects youth smoking. We estimate somewhere around a quarter of a million kids were deterred from taking up smoking just in the first couple of months following the tax increase.

NPH: The study looked at the short-term impact of the tobacco tax increase. Does the impact grow over time?

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Med Students Help Teach Nutrition, Physical Activity Goals to Illinois School Kids

May 9, 2012, 5:01 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

An interesting presentation yesterday at the Weight of the Nation Conference focused on an elective at the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Medical School that teams medical students with school children to help them reach physical fitness and nutrition goals. In addition to community-based work, students learn skills to help them speak to students about making healthier choices and increasing their physical activity. The project was started by Tracey Jo Smith, MS, a coordinator in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Smith is the department liaison to the Springfield Collaborative for Active Child Health, which joins partners including the medical school and the health department with school districts and the area’s Head Start program to focus on obesity in Springfield.

Outcomes of the students’ work is largely qualitative so far, including improvements in school kids’ choices of fruits and vegetables, in choosing milk over soda and in engaging in vigorous activity. Medical students wrote narratives about their experiences and often, according to Smith, highlighted social disparities and of their desires to continue their relationships with the schools even after the elective ended.

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Making Health a Part of the School Day

May 9, 2012, 2:49 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

A group of professionally-attired policy-makers, influencers and public health professionals in Washington started their day this morning the way students at Namaste Charter School in Chicago do every day—doing upper and lower body exercises and stretches to make physical activity the first learning component of their school day. The Washingtonians—and some key education and health officials from around the country—were at the launch of “Health in Mind,” a project of the Healthy Schools Campaign and Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) that has released actionable recommendations focused on improving student learning and achievement through healthier schools. The recommendations were presented at today’s event to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“Unless we address health and wellness in schools, our nation’s efforts to close the achievement gap will be compromised,” said Rochelle Davis, president and CEO of the Healthy Schools Campaign, a national group that has focused on improving food and fitness in Chicago public schools.

Health in Mind aligns with the National Prevention Strategy introduced two years ago by the National Prevention and Health Promotion Council, which brings together 17 federal cabinet offices and agencies. The Strategy commits the entire federal government, not just the health agencies, to integrate health into their work and make a healthier nation a priority across sectors.

“The Strategy and these recommendations represent a major culture shift in how the nation views health—health will no longer be separated from education, transportation, housing and other clearly connected policies,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of TFAH and chair of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health. “Health in Mind’s focus on students and schools promises to have a long-term payoff by improving education and quality of life for today’s kids as they grow up—they will do better in school and be healthier.”

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County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Take on Capitol Hill

May 3, 2012, 3:39 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

Congressional staffers bent over iPads to check the health of their constituents in their home counties yesterday at a Capitol Hill briefing on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The 2012Rankings were released last month, and present health measures for nearly every county in the United States. The County Health Rankings illustrate what makes people sick or healthy and the County Health Roadmaps, a new project introduced this year, show what can be done to create healthier places to live, learn, work and play. The Rankings measures include employment, safe places to exercise, education levels and access to healthy foods. New measures this year include density of fast food restaurants in counties and levels of physical activity among residents.

“For all the measures we use we have good news and bad news,” said Patrick Remington, MD, MPH, associate dean at the University Of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and an architect of the County Health Rankings. “We’re living longer, but the quality of life may be going down. Teen birth rates are down, but there has been an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. There is less violent crime, but children living in poverty are increasing.” Said Remington: “As a physician, I think the unique aspect of the Rankings is that it puts in one place the overall health of the community, which lets us know how we’re doing and then dig deeper on why some counties are performing well, and some not as good as could be.”

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