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Children eating more fruit, but fruit and vegetable intake still too low

Categories: Public Health Partners

Photo of woman and vegetablesChildcare and schools can help children meet daily recommendations

Good eating habits developed in childhood can last a lifetime, but getting children to eat their fruits and vegetables is a common problem. Eating them adds important nutrients, helps control weight, and reduces the risks for many serious illnesses. Children in the US are eating more fruit, however, 60 percent of children get fewer fruits than recommended and 93 percent don’t get enough vegetables, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recommendations for the amount of fruit and vegetables children should eat are based on a child’s age, gender and level of physical activity.  Recommendations range from 1-2 cups for fruit and 1-3 cups for vegetables.

Children spend a significant amount of their day in schools or childcare (centers and homes, Head Start programs, preschool, and pre-kindergarten) and these places can help children with their lifelong food choices.  In addition to meeting or exceeding federal nutrition standards for meals and snacks, to help increase the amount of fruits and vegetables children eat, childcare, schools and school districts can consider:
·         Including fruits and vegetables whenever food is offered;
·         Training staff to make fruits and vegetables more appealing and accessible; and
·         Providing nutrition education and hands-on learning opportunities, such as growing, tasting, and preparing fruits and vegetables.

Visit the latest  Vital Signs issue and check the related for additional tips and resources such as a CDC calculator to learn how many fruits and vegetables you or your loved ones need.

Opioid Painkiller Prescribing: Where You Live Makes a Difference

Categories: Public Health Partners

Photo of pillsHealth issues that cause people pain don’t vary much from place to place—not enough to explain why, in 2012, health care providers in the highest-prescribing state wrote almost 3 times as many opioid painkiller prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state in the U.S. Or why there are twice as many painkiller prescriptions per person in the U.S. as in Canada.

Prescription opioid painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin and methadone can provide relief from painful conditions. However, as shown in a recent CDC Vital Signs report, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for these painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. And every day, 46 Americans die from an overdose of these powerful drugs.

The Vital Signs report also highlights states across our country that have had success working to reduce overprescribing of painkillers. A promising step is increasing the use of state-based prescription drug monitoring program. The goal of these state-run programs is to track prescriptions for controlled substances and help find problems in overprescribing.

Florida is one example of a state that has reversed its overdose trend. After statewide legislative and enforcement actions in 2010 and 2011, painkiller prescribing declined, and the death rate from prescription drug overdose decreased 23 percent by 2012. Where does your state rank in terms of prescribing painkillers? Do you want to learn what states can do to drive this epidemic down? Check the new Vital Signs report.

Norovirus outbreaks are more common than you think

Categories: U.S. Disease Outbreaks

Photo of NorovirusNorovirus often gets a lot of attention for outbreaks on cruise ships, but those account for only about 1 percent of all reported norovirus outbreaks. Most norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food occur in food service settings such as restaurants and catering or banquet facilities, according to a Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Infected food workers are frequently the source of these outbreaks, often by touching ready-to-eat foods served in restaurants with their bare hands. The Vital Signs report provides key recommendations to help the food service industry prevent norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food. The recommendations, which underscore provisions in the Food and Drug Administration model Food Code and CDC Guidelines include:

  • Wash hands carefully and often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, and avoid preparing food for others while sick. 
  • Report suspected illness from food to your local health department.CDC’s analysis looked at which foods were commonly implicated in norovirus outbreaks. Of 324 outbreaks with a specific food item implicated, more than 90 percent were contaminated during final preparation (such as making a sandwich with raw and already cooked ingredients) and 75 percent were foods eaten raw. Leafy vegetables, fruits, and mollusks, such as oysters, were the most common single food categories implicated in these outbreaks.

CDC analyzed norovirus outbreak data reported by state, local, and territorial health departments from 2009 to 2012 through CDC’s National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS).

What can everyone do to stop norovirus outbreaks?

  • Wash hands carefully and often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid preparing food for others while sick.
  • Report suspected illness from food to your local health department.

 

For more information read the Vital Signs report.

How can adults with disabilities prevent chronic diseases?

Categories: Disease Detectives, U.S. Disease Outbreaks

Photo: Man in wheelchair, holding basketball

Did you know that more than 21 million US working age adults (between 18 and 64) have a disability? Adults with disabilities are 3 times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer. The best way to avoid these chronic diseases is through aerobic physical activity, and most activities may be modified, adapted, to get everyone physically active, shows a new CDC Vital Signs report.

Nearly half of adults with disabilities get no aerobic physical activity. Yet adults with disabilities do follow healthcare provider guidance.

“Physical activity is key to better health for people of all abilities and all ages,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Too many of the more than 21 million US adults with disabilities don’t get aerobic physical activity, but we can change that. Doctors can play an important role. Our research has found that adults with disabilities were more than 80 percent more likely to be physically active if a doctor recommended it.”

Take a look at key findings of the CDC Vital Signs report:

  • Adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer than adults without disabilities.
  • Inactive adults with disabilities were 50 percent more likely to report at least one chronic condition than were active adults with disabilities.
  • Nearly half of all adults with disabilities get no aerobic physical activity, an important protective health behavior to help avoid these chronic diseases.
  • Adults with disabilities were 82 percent more likely to be physically active if their doctor recommended it.

Doctors and other health professionals can recommend physical activity options that match the abilities of adults with disabilities and resources that can help overcome barriers to physical activity. These barriers include limited information about accessible facilities and programs; physical barriers in the built or natural environment; physical or emotional barriers to participating in fitness and recreation activities, and lack of training in accessibility and communication among fitness and recreation professionals.

For this report, CDC analyzed data from the 2009-2012 National Health Interview Survey, specifically looking at the link between physical activity levels and chronic diseases among US adults aged 18-64 years with disabilities, by disability status and type. Adults with disabilities have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs; hearing; seeing; or concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.

Steps to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Categories: Public Health Partners

Photo - Doctor and TeenTeen births in the US have declined over the last 20 years to the lowest level ever recorded but still nearly 1,700 teens between the ages of 15 to 17 give birth every week, according to this month’s CDC’s Vital Signs report.

CDC researchers who analyzed birth data from the National Vital Statistics System and adolescent health behavior data from the National Survey of Family Growth also found out that racial and ethnic disparities in teen pregnancy rates remained in 2012. The birth rate to younger teens is higher for Hispanic, non-Hispanic black and American Indian/Alaska Native teens.

The report recommends targeted and culturally appropriate interventions and services.

Doctor, nurses, and other healthcare providers can provide confidential, respectful, and culturally appropriate services; Encourage teens who are not sexually active to continue to wait; Offer sexually active teens a broad range of contraceptive methods, and encourage them to use the most effective methods; Counsel teens about the importance of condom use to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Parents, guardians, and caregivers can: Talk with teens about sex, including normal sexual development, and how and when to say “no” to sex, having a mutually respectful and honest relationship and using birth control if they have sex and a condom every time.

Parents can also know where their teens are and what they are doing, particularly after school and be aware of their teen’s use of social media and digital technology (e.g. cell phones, computers, tablets).

Teens can: Know both they and their partner share responsibility for preventing pregnancy and resisting peer pressure to start having sex and wait until they are older; Talk openly about sexual health issues with parents and other people they trust; and see a health care provider to learn about the most effective types of birth control and use it and condoms correctly every time.

May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. This Vital Signs report was created to help communities continue the dialogue about teen pregnancy and its burden on our nation’s youth. Visit CDC’s Teen Pregnancy website for more information.

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