Archive | February, 2015

HIGHLIGHTED STORIES: People of Color Are Already Getting Hit the Hardest by Climate Change

25 Feb
Sixty-eight percent of African-Americans live within thirty miles of a coal-fired power plant, the zone of maximum exposure to pollutants that cause an array of ailments, from heart disease to birth defects.  Communities of color breathe in nearly 40 percent more polluted air than whites.  African-American children are three times as likely to suffer an asthma attack.  The NAACP launched its Climate Justice Initiative address the stark numbers head on.

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HIGHLIGHTED STORIES: Discrimination is bad for your health-and your kids too

25 Feb


There is no shortage of evidence that racism persists.  Despite the fact that science has demonstrated that racial groups are defined by society rather than biology, an individual’s experience from the moment they are born is colored by the color of their skin.  Recently, high profile incidents have focused attention on how people can be treated differently by authority figures.  However the majority of discrimination experiences are much more subtle.  In fact, subtle bias may actually be more mentally damaging than overt bias.  Subtle bias is able to “get under the skin” to influence physical health.

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CURRENT RESEARCH: Highly Processed Foods Linked to Addictive Eating

25 Feb

processed food

University of Michigan psychology doctoral student, and study’s lead author Erica Schulte confirms that highly processed foods like chocolate, pizza and French fries are among the most addictive.  Published in PLOS ONE, this is one of the first studies to examine specifically which foods may be implicated in “food addiction,” which has become of growing interest to scientists and consumers in light of the obesity epidemic.  The significance of the findings may lead to adopting methods used to curtail smoking, drinking, and drug use.

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Webinar: Youth Justice, Youth of Color and Health Policy Implications

18 Feb

Webinar hosted by the Federal Interagency Health Equity Team.


TOPIC: Youth Justice, Youth of Color and Health Policy Implications

SPEAKER: James Bell, Founder and Executive Director, W. Haywood Burns Institute

DATE: February 19, 2015

TIME: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. EST

On any given night in 2011, more than 61,000 youth were incarcerated, and 75% of those youth were brought in for non-violent offenses. The majority (65 percent) were youth of color.  The U.S. stands out in its use of youth incarceration with higher rates than any country in the world: five times the rate of South Africa; 15 times the rate of Germany and 30 times the rate of Italy. With this social backdrop, the W. Haywood Burns Institute was launched in 2001 to better understand policy implications for the unequal treatment for youth of color in the youth justice system.

In this webinar, Burns Institute founder James Bell will discuss justice policy implementation trends with particular attention to their impact on the mental health and life outcomes for youth of color.  The presentation will also include a review of national youth incarceration data and strategies that are used to assist jurisdictions in understanding disparities in their youth justice system. Programs and practices that have significantly contributed to the reduction of delinquency for youth of color, including examples of community-based interventions driven by evidence-based practices, will be used to illustrate the impact of the work as well as opportunities for replication.

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The Federal Interagency Health Equity Team (FIHET) is a group of 12 federal agencies convened under the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA). The NPA is a national movement with the mission to improve the effectiveness of programs that target the elimination of health disparities through coordination of leaders, partners, and stakeholders that are committed to action. The FIHET provides a forum for federal agencies to increase dialog between traditionally siloed programs in ways that enhance cross-agency coordination, maximally leverage existing resources, and increase the impact of federal resources on conditions within communities.

CURRENT RESEARCH: New findings show chronic high blood pressure increases risk of glaucoma

9 Feb

 A new study published in Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS) has found that chronic (long term) hypertension increases a person’s suscepibilty to glaucoma.  These results suggest that doctors should consider a patient’s blood pressure levels in managing the potentially blinding eye disorder.  Glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness in the world, is a condition that occurs when too much pressure builds up inside the eye.  This excess pressure pushes back against blood trying to enter the eye resulting in vision loss.  Data gathered from large populations of glaucoma patients subsequently suggested that hypertension in young patients protects against the disorder, but is a risk factor in older patients.

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CURRENT RESEARCH: Walkability tied to better mental health among Hispanic seniors, study finds.

9 Feb

Senior Hispanic adults who perceive their neighborhoods as safer – and thus, more walkable – are also less likely to experience depressive symptoms, according to a study published online in October in the Journal of Aging and Health.  With previous research finding that senior Hispanics face both higher risks for depression as well as greater barriers to treatment, the study’s findings highlight an additional way to positively impact mental health among an already vulnerable population.  Researchers were interested in finding other macrosystems that can inform someone’s psychological well-being.walkability

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HIGHLIGHTED STORIES: Inflammation is a major treatable cause of neurological problems after traumatic brain injury.

9 Feb

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) are arguing that there is a widespread misunderstanding about the true nature of traumatic brain injury and how it causes chronic degenerative problems.  In a perspective article published in the latest issues of Neurotherapeutics, researchers propose that chronic brain damage and neuropsychiatric problems after trauma are to a large degree caused by long-term inflammation.  In their view, this inflammation is a key culprit behind the myriad symptoms that have been linked with traumatic brain injury and mild traumatic brain injury, including brain atrophy, depression and cognitive decline.