Broad Shoulders Update

news and information for cmun dev advocates in metropolitan Chicago

Archive for the ‘obesity’ tag

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Deficit Complicates Push on Jobs,” - The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — Democratic leaders pressed President Barack Obama on Wednesday to extend more elements of the existing economic-stimulus package, and to possibly add tax cuts that were rejected the first time around, despite a record budget deficit that is giving some lawmakers pause.

On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the federal deficit for fiscal 2009 will be $1.4 trillion. That is somewhat better than the nearly $1.6 trillion the CBO projected in August, but much of the change stems from different accounting treatments for losses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies the government took over last year.

Putting America’s Diet on a Diet,” - The New York Times

On his first day in Huntington, W. Va., Jamie Oliver spent the afternoon at Hillbilly Hot Dogs, pitching in to cook its signature 15-pound burger. That’s 10 pounds of meat, 5 pounds of custom-made bun, American cheese, tomatoes, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard and mayo. Then he learned how to perfect the Home Wrecker, the eatery’s famous 15-inch, one-pound hot dog (boil first, then grill in butter). For the Home Wrecker Challenge, the dog gets 11 toppings, including chili sauce, jalapeños, liquid nacho cheese and coleslaw. Finish it in 12 minutes or less and you get a T-shirt.

So much for local color. Earlier that day, Oliver met with a pediatrician, James Bailes, and a pastor, Steve Willis. Bailes told him about an 8-year-old patient who was 80 pounds overweight and had developed Type 2 diabetes. If the child’s diet didn’t change, the doctor said, he wouldn’t live to see 30. Willis told Oliver that he visits patients in local hospitals several days a week and sees the effects of long-term obesity firsthand. Since he can’t write a prescription for their resulting illnesses, he said, all he can do is pray with them.

Universal healthcare coverage appears elusive,” - Los Angeles Times

As a key Senate committee prepares today to pass its plan to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, senior Democrats are acknowledging that it may be impossible to provide coverage to all Americans — a central goal of President Obama and his congressional allies.

That is fueling growing alarm among hospitals and insurance companies, which have made universal coverage a condition of their support.

Written by Keith Forest

October 13th, 2009 at 9:29 pm

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States Resist Medicaid Growth,” - Washington Post

The nation’s governors are emerging as a formidable lobbying force as health-care reform moves through Congress and states overburdened by the recession brace for the daunting prospect of providing coverage to millions of low-income residents.

The legislation the Senate Finance Committee is expected to approve this week calls for the biggest expansion of Medicaid since its creation in 1965. Under the Senate bill and a similar House proposal, a patchwork state-federal insurance program targeted mainly at children, pregnant women and disabled people would effectively become a Medicare for the poor, a health-care safety net for all people with an annual income below $14,404.

Obama uses L.A. program as a model for going green,” - Los Angeles Times

Urging the government to “lead by example,” President Obama ordered federal agencies on Monday to set ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut energy use, save water and recycle more.

The order calls for a 30% cut in vehicle fuel use by 2020, a 50% increase in recycling by 2015 and the implementation of high-efficiency building codes.

Housing Battle Reveals Post-Katrina Tensions,” -  The New York Times

CHALMETTE, La. — The parish of St. Bernard, a quiet, insular suburb just east of New Orleans, has in the end agreed to allow housing for low-income families.

But even though it is only a few hundred apartment units, it had to be ordered by a federal judge. The parish has fought desperately to prevent such housing and an influx of renters, at one point even approving a law that prohibited homeowners from renting to anyone other than a blood relative, before it was challenged and repealed.

Written by Keith Forest

October 6th, 2009 at 10:17 pm

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WIC nutrition program expands to cover fruits, vegetables,” - Los Angeles Times

Beginning today, women and children who receive food vouchers through the federal government’s WIC program will be able to use them to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

“It’s a really welcome change,” said Gail Harrison, a public health professor at UCLA who was on the national Institute of Medicine panel that recommended the revisions to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — the first major change in the program since it began in the 1970s. “The supplemental food package contributes a very substantial share of dietary intake, and so making it healthier is all to the good.”

Swiss Health Care Thrives Without Public Option,” -  The New York Times

ZURICH — Like every other country in Europe, Switzerland guarantees health care for all its citizens. But the system here does not remotely resemble the model of bureaucratic, socialized medicine often cited by opponents of universal coverage in the United States.

Swiss private insurers are required to offer coverage to all citizens, regardless of age or medical history. And those people, in turn, are obligated to buy health insurance.

$35 Billion Slated for Local Housing,” -  The wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is close to committing as much as $35 billion to help beleaguered state and local housing agencies continue to provide mortgages to low- and moderate-income families, according to administration officials.

The move would further cement the government’s role in propping up the housing market even as some lawmakers push to curb spending at a time of rising debt.

Written by Keith Forest

October 1st, 2009 at 8:46 pm

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Cash Incentive Program for Poor Families Is Renewed,” -  The New York Times

An experimental antipoverty program that pays poor families up to $5,000 a year for going to regular medical checkups, attending school and keeping jobs has been extended for a third year.

Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services, said she was encouraged by some early results in the education component of the program that showed students improved their attendance and passed more exams when they were rewarded with cash.

Experts: Penny per ounce soda tax to fight obesity, health costs,”   - Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — In a bid to ramp up the public health battle against obesity, a group of nutrition and economics experts are pushing for a tax of 1 cent on every of ounce of sodas and other sweetened beverages.

Proposals for a hefty soda tax though have repeatedly fallen flat. The idea was even floated as a way to help pay for health care reform, but government officials on Wednesday said that’s not likely to happen.

 ”As farm incomes drop, grocery deals rise,” - USA TODAY

Consumers are reaping some benefits as farmers take their biggest hit in 35 years: lower food prices at the supermarket. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts farm income of $49.1 billion in 2009 when adjusted for inflation. That would be a 39% drop from 2008, a record year when U.S. farmers earned $80.4 billion after expenses.

It would also be the worst annual percentage drop since 1983. In dollars, it would be the worst since 1974, adjusted for inflation.

Written by Keith Forest

September 22nd, 2009 at 9:33 pm

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Average family health insurance policy: $13,375, up 5%,” -  USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — An average family health insurance policy now costs more than some compact cars, and four in 10 companies will likely pass more of that expense on to workers, according to a closely watched survey of businesses released Tuesday.

The average cost of a family policy offered by employers was $13,375 this year, up 5% from 2008, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust survey found. By comparison, wages rose 3% over that period, the study said.

Proposed Tax on Sugary Beverages Debated,” -   The New York Times

The debate over a tax on sugary soft drinks — billed as a way to fight obesity and provide billions for health care reform — is starting to fizz over.

President Obama has said it is worth considering. The chief executive of Coca-Cola calls the idea outrageous, while skeptics point to political obstacles and question how much of an impact it would really have on consumers.

Road and Rail Spending Proposals Stall as Lawmakers Punt on Revenue Fix,” - The New York Times

On Capitol Hill, House and Senate leaders agree on one thing when it comes to overhauling the national transportation strategy: They have no plans to raise taxes to pay for the reform.

Off the Hill, however, most transportation experts agree you cannot address the nation’s infrastructure without a new revenue source.

Written by Keith Forest

September 18th, 2009 at 7:14 pm

New Stimulus Funds will make Black & Latino Communities Healthier

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fruit-cart-ny-mag.jpgThe health of the nation’s black and Latino communities stands to get a significant shot in the arm from the $650 million in health and wellness funding announced this afternoon by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to PolicyLink, a national research and advocacy organization.

The Prevention and Wellness Fund, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. the federal stimulus bill), should go a long way toward creating healthier communities across America and, in particular, battling the pernicious racial disparities we see when it comes to obesity and diabetes rates.

“This new funding will throw a lifeline to millions of black and Latino children and their parents and help create healthier communities across America,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink and a principal advisor for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity. “Black and Latino Americans are hit hardest by the dual crises of obesity and diabetes. All people deserve to live in healthy communities - places with clean air, safe streets, clean parks, and easy access to healthy food options. These new funds will put us on a path toward healthy communities for all.”

The Administration’s funding approach appears to back three core policy principles PolicyLink and its partners have long called for:

  • Healthy food in our schools
  • Healthy food options in our communities
  • Healthy and safe places to live and play

The funding plan also lines up well with recommendations provided to the White House by PolicyLink and the Prevention Institute. To read those recommendations, click here.

Fact and Resources after the Jump

(more…)

Written by Dan Lavoie

September 17th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

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Oakland Housing Authority creates loophole to use Section 8 funds for public housing,” - East Bay Journal

Oakland - The disposition plan for over 1,600 public housing units owned and operated by the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA), signals the end of public housing as we know it if other Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) follow suit and switch to the Section 8 model being promoted by the OHA for it’s public housing program.

In a nut shell, the OHA wants to determine which of it’s small scattered public housing sites that are occupied with very low-income households, will be sold off, so that the proceeds can be used to build much larger mixed income housing projects for higher income residents, like the Hope Vl mixed income housing projects that have displaced the poor all across the nation.

Road and Rail Spending Proposals Stall as Lawmakers Punt on Revenue Fix,” - The New York Times

On Capitol Hill, House and Senate leaders agree on one thing when it comes to overhauling the national transportation strategy: They have no plans to raise taxes to pay for the reform.

Off the Hill, however, most transportation experts agree you cannot address the nation’s infrastructure without a new revenue source.

Outside the Superstar Spotlight, Minorities Struggle With Obesity,” - Washington Post

As any sports fan knows, this time of year is like Christmas in September. The NFL season is about to start, and the speed, power and grace of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is on display. The U.S. Open is in full swing, with Serena Williams tearing through the field as usual. Baseball is heading toward the playoffs; the superhuman Albert Pujols has a shot at the Triple Crown. The majestic Michael Jordan was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame and it won’t be long before Kobe and LeBron are back on the floor.

Yet here is the irony I couldn’t escape as I sat in front of my television last week, taking it all in: The overall fitness level of the minority groups those superstars represent is appalling. By any measure that matters, blacks and Hispanics are in worse shape than whites — who, of course, are firmly in the grip of the obesity epidemic themselves.

Written by Keith Forest

September 15th, 2009 at 7:48 pm

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Van Jones, Patriot,” - Washington Post

It makes me sad and a little sick that Van Jones, the White House Green Jobs Czar, was forced to resign after being targeted by a vicious smear campaign. The Obama administration lost a brilliant mind who worked day and night to, as Van would say, “get the greenest solutions to the poorest people”. Indeed, Van did as much as anyone to put the concept of the Green Collar Economy on the map, including publishing a best-selling book with that title. More than that, he was one of the nation’s most pragmatic environmental visionaries, someone who was always thinking up practical, pattern-changing solutions to massive climate problems.

Van grew up in a small town in Tennessee, went to a provincial college, and wound up graduating from Yale Law School, launching a number of important nonprofit organizations, and winning way too many awards to count, including being named to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list. He’s a remarkable American success story, eloquently captured in Elizabeth Kolbert’s New Yorker profile.

The Social Side of Obesity: You Are Who You Eat With,” - NEWSWEEK

Sending your kids back to lunch-lady land this fall? Careful, your child’s dining mates may be upping his chances of packing on the pounds. A study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that how much tweens and teens eat can be influenced by how much their friends weigh.

In the study, 130 kids ages 9 to 15 were allowed to snack as much as they wanted while hanging out with a friend or with a peer they did not know. All the kids ate more when they were with a friend than with a stranger. But the overweight children ate the most when paired with an overweight friend - an average of 300 more calories than when they spent time with leaner friends. The research also found that friendship itself makes the appetite grow stronger: when overweight kids ate with similar-weight kids who were already their pals, they threw back an extra 250 calories than when they ate with chubby kids they had just met.

‘24 hours in the ER’ shows challenges of health system,” - USA TODAY

Dr. Robert O’Connor had taken charge of the emergency room only minutes earlier when the cellphone in his pocket rang: The Western Albemarle Rescue Squad was on its way with a 14-month-old girl who had suffered a possible seizure.

Ten minutes later, Tyler McNeely climbed out of the ambulance, her face frantic and her pale, subdued baby in her arms. Shana Crabtree, a third-year resident in green scrubs, waited for them at the University of Virginia Medical Center. EMT Andrew Todhunter delivered a staccato summary of Clara’s vital signs.

Written by Keith Forest

September 8th, 2009 at 9:12 pm

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U.S. Economy Gets Lift From Stimulus,” -  The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — Government efforts to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy appear to be helping the U.S. climb out of the worst recession in decades.

But there’s little agreement about which programs are having the biggest impact. Some economists argue that efforts such as the Federal Reserve’s aggressive buying of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities, as well as government efforts to shore up banks, are providing a bigger boost than the administration’s $787 billion stimulus package.

The Five Biggest Lies in the Health Care Debate,” - NEWSWEEK 

To the credit of opponents of health-care reform, the lies and exaggerations they’re spreading are not made up out of whole cloth—which makes the misinformation that much more credible. Instead, because opponents demand that everyone within earshot (or e-mail range) look, say, “at page 425 of the House bill!,” the lies take on a patina of credibility. Take the claim in one chain e-mail that the government will have electronic access to everyone’s bank account, implying that the Feds will rob you blind. The 1,017-page bill passed by the House Ways and Means Committee does call for electronic fund transfers—but from insurers to doctors and other providers. There is zero provision to include patients in any such system.

Weight-Loss Surgery Breaks Families’ ‘Obesity Cycle’,” – Atlanta Journal Constitution

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) — Obese mothers have children who are likely to be obese, but a new study concludes that weight-loss surgery can break the cycle.

Researchers found that women who had weight-loss surgery before becoming pregnant had children who were less likely to be heavy when compared with siblings who were born before the weight-loss surgery.

Written by Keith Forest

September 3rd, 2009 at 4:31 pm

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Grass Roots Put New Orleans Back on Its Feet,” - The Wall Street Journal
With Federal Aid Finally Flowing to Hurricane-Ravaged City, a Flurry of Rebuilding Helps Shield It from U.S. Downturn

NEW ORLEANS — This once-ravaged city is finally mending from Hurricane Katrina after years of administrative delays and political disputes that choked the flow of millions of dollars in federal aid.

Money now flowing through the city is beginning to deliver the most visibly widespread improvements since Katrina struck four years ago today. Scores of public works projects are under way. The last police precinct using a FEMA trailer as temporary headquarters moved into real offices earlier this year. More than half the public schools in New Orleans have been turned into higher-performing charter schools. Returning residents have pushed the population to 76% of its prestorm total of about 455,000.

Yes, We Can Afford Health-Care Reform,” - Washington Post

“Moderate” opponents of health-care reform like to say that we cannot afford it, particularly in the midst of a recession that has widened the deficit with both reduced tax revenue and the fiscal stimulus package. This was the argument advanced by Sen. Joe Lieberman on TV a week ago and repeated by Michael Gerson in this newspaper: “Obama’s massive spending, intended to stabilize the economy, also drained the Treasury, making it more difficult to propose major new expenditures.”

 ”Report maps out solutions to child obesity,” -  USA TODAY

To make it easier for children to eat healthfully and move more, local governments in towns and cities across the country need to help create a better environment, a new report says.

Children and their families should have access to grocery stores that offer plenty of healthful food such as fruits and vegetables, and schools shouldn’t be surrounded by fast-food restaurants. Children should be able to ride their bikes or walk safely to school, and they should have safe places to play afterward, says the report out today from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council.

Written by Keith Forest

September 1st, 2009 at 6:13 pm