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Why reducing sodium in children’s diet is important

Categories: Public Health Partners

10 Sources of Sodium in Children's Diets - pizza, bread/rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties and nuggets, pasta mixed dishes, Mexican mixed dishes and soups.This month’s Vital Signs report looks at how much sodium children eat and what are the most common foods contributing to their sodium intake. More than 90 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. eat too much sodium and one in six children already has raised blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major cause for cause of heart disease and stroke in adults.

CDC researchers determined that about 43 percent of sodium that children eat daily comes from the 10 foods they eat most often: pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties/nuggets/tenders, pasta mixed dishes, Mexican mixed dishes, and soups. The source of the data comes from CDC’s 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The good news is we can do something about the problem if we work together. The taste for salt is established through diet at a young age.

At the grocery store, read the Nutrition Facts labels and choose the lowest sodium option.

That’s important not just for the cereal or frozen dinner you might be buying, but also in foods like mayonnaise, canned tomatoes and soy sauce you may use in preparing meals.

Tell your grocery store manager you’d like more low sodium options of your family’s favorite foods, and when they make it to the shelf, buy them.

When you’re eating out, ask for nutrition information and look it over with your children. If you choose a lower-sodium option, chances are your children will, too.

Less salt doesn’t mean less flavor. Herbs, spices and even citrus can help season any dish. And the good news is it doesn’t take long for our taste buds to adjust to less salt.

Children in cafeteria lineCDC is working with the food industry to reduce sodium in food and drink products—and we’re working with schools and school districts as they implement changes to serve healthier food in school meals and vending machines.

There’s no better time than today to make the choice to eat better an easy choice for your children. The benefits will really add up over their lifetimes—and it won’t add to their weight and blood pressure!

Check out the Vital Signs report titled Reducing Sodium in Children’s Diets to learn how you can help our children avoid health problems in the future.

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.

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