August 29, 2013 / Issue XVII


Featured Resources  

Safe Routes to School National Partnership offers monthly webinars covering advocacy topics related to improving children's health and safety by providing safe bicycling and walking paths to and from schools throughout the United States.  Each webinar features expert panelists and an interactive chat window for participants to ask questions during the webinar.


Their next webinar is Thursday, September 5 at 2:00pm EST/1:00pm CST.   

Register here 


This webinar, "Authentic Middle School Youth Engagement in Safe Routes to School," focuses on techniques for effectively engaging middle school youth.  Expert panelists will provide an overview of working with middle school youth and explore programs and best practices related to engaging youth around issues of school transportation.


Panelists include:  

  • Arthur Orsini, facilitator, Urbanthinkers
  • Leah Stender, program manager, WalkSanDiego
  • Alyssa Simon, youth leadership coordinator, The Food Trust
  • Dave Cowan, program manager, Safe Routes to School National Partnership


In related news, four HLM Youth Ambassadors attended the Safe Routes to School National Conference in Sacramento August 13-15. We will highlight the conference and what they learned in the next newsletter.  


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HLM July Collaborative Meeting features policy financing panel discussion 

At the July Collaborative Meeting, experts from Houston/Harris County came together at the Welsey Community Center in the Northside Community to discuss the connections between policy, finance, health, quality of life, and economic development as they relate to childhood obesity.  Panelists included:

  • Moderator: Robbi Jones, President, Kipling Jones & Co.
  • Daphne Lemelle, Community Development Director, Harris County Community Services Department
  • Tom McCasland, CEO, Harris County Housing Authority
  • Chris Browne, Associate/Department Manager, Land Planning and Landscape Architecture, Edminster, Hindshaw, Russ and Associates, Inc.
  • David Kim, Deputy Assistant Director, City of Houston Housing & Community Development


Each panelist briefly spoke about their work financing policy decisions, which was followed by a Q & A session.  Over 70 HLM Collaborative and community members across Houston attended the meeting and asked poignant questions about how communities should seek funding to make their communities healthier, happier places.  Panelist advice highlighted the importance of collaboration when addressing an issue by way of policy, developing a concise message when speaking about a problem, and having a result-oriented approach to addressing that issue.   


Texas Obesity News

Texas Comptroller Joins Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs recently announced a partnership between her office and the Texas Library Association that would provide all public libraries and more than 1,100 public elementary schools with nutrition and fitness-related media aimed to fight childhood obesity.

The partnership is part of the Comptroller's efforts to boost awareness of the agency's Reshaping Texas site, a collection of resources and information to help Texans address the economic effects of obesity. Besides books and DVDs, the Comptroller is also supplying free sports equipment to public schools in areas identified as being at high risk for obesity. One in three Texas children is overweight or obese, including almost half of the state's Hispanic children, studies suggest.  Full article


San Antonio obesity rate plunges below state average, study shows


San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and city health officials announced on Wednesday a huge decrease in Bexar County's obesity rate over a two-year period.

According to data presented by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, the obesity rate in San Antonio and Bexar County dropped from 35.1 percent to 28.5 percent between 2010 and 2012.

The state recorded an obesity rate average of 29.5 in 2012.

"Over the last few years, San Antonio has eclipsed the adult obesity rate of the state of Texas. And that is significant because I believe that is the first time that has happened in quite a while," Mayor Julian Castro said.  Full article 


Parents getting back to the basics to curb childhood obesity 

The fight against childhood obesity in Texas is at a standstill after the Center for Disease Control says the Lone Star State isn't doing great on curbing those numbers.


But many locals say parents are to blame for the battle on fat and that it's time to get back to the basics.


It's easy for parents to stop off at a fast food restaurant for a quick dinner, but Dr. Rima Kittley, a family physician, says those quick fixes are the problem.


"If kids get offered a meat and a vegetable, it's going to be chicken nuggets that are coated in flour and French fries. It's so much sugar and so much starch," Kittley said.


While those little bites of happiness might be a delicious snack for the kids, Jennifer Liebrum, a mom of two, agrees with Kittley saying parents control what the family eats.  Full article


National Obesity News

CDC Reports Dip in Obesity Rates Among Some Preschoolers 

Fresh analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the tide may be turning on the childhood obesity front. After decades of steady increases, 19 states and U.S. territories saw small decreases in their rates of obesity among low-income preschoolers. And another 20 states held steady at current rates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been quick to frame the dip in childhood obesity as a turning point. Before, there were only suggestions - hints, really - that efforts to turn around the epidemic were beginning to take root. Now, there's evidence of small declines in obesity rates among very young children, in many parts of the country.  Full article

USDA and EPA Launch U.S. Food Waste Challenge: Call on both Public Sector and Private Industry to reduce food waste

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2013 - Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, calling on others across the food chain-including producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and other government agencies − to join the effort to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste. Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe were joined at the event by representatives from private-sector partners and supporters including Rio Farms, Unilever, General Mills, the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, Feeding America, and Rock and Wrap It Up!.  


Food waste in the United States is estimated at roughly between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply. In 2010, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people's stomachs. The amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at almost $390 per U.S. consumer in 2008, more than an average month's worth of food expenditures.  Full article 

House Republicans to push $40 billion cut to food stamp program

(Reuters) - House Republicans plan to seek a $40 billion cut in food stamps for the poor, the head of the House Agriculture Committee said on Thursday, double the amount previously sought by conservatives.


The plan was quickly condemned by Democrats.


Chairman Frank Lucas said the legislation on food stamps, formally named Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), would be the second part of any talks with the Senate on a new U.S. farm law costing $100 billion a year.


Food stamps, the largest U.S. anti-hunger program, are the pivotal issue for the farm bill. One in seven Americans received food stamps at latest count.


Republicans say the program, whose enrollment soared after the 2008-09 recession, is unbearably expensive at $78 billion a year. Democrats such as Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts say food stamps mitigate hunger in a still-weak economy.  Full article


USDA Tests New Methods to Ensure Children Have Health Food during Summer Months


On August 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an evaluation of the impact of an alternative delivery method for providing low income children with access to food during the summer months when school meals are not available. Authorized and funded by Congress in 2010, the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children (SEBTC) demonstration project is testing the impact of providing a monthly household benefit through existing EBT systems during the summer. 

The evaluation report found that the project reduced the prevalence of food insecurity among children by 19 percent, and the prevalence of very low food security among children, the most severe category, by 33 percent, compared to children who did not receive SEBTC benefits. Participating children in households with SEBTC ate more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy foods while consuming fewer sugar-sweetened beverages. Full report


Taco Bell dropping kids meals, toys

Taco Bell will shock the fast-food industry on Tuesday by announcing plans to drop kids meals and toys at all of its U.S. restaurants.


"The future of Taco Bell is not about kids meals," says Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed. "This is about positioning the brand for Millennials."


Somewhere around January 2014, the chain's last kids meal will be sold, he estimates.


Taco Bell emerges as the first national fast-food chain to eliminate kids meals altogether. The meals are a huge lure for kids -- which is why the industry sells more than 1.2 billion of them annually in the U.S., according to Federal Trade Commission data. In 2011, the regional chain Jack-in-the-Box eliminated toys from its kids meals.  Full article


NYC Doctors Are Now Prescribing Fruits and Veggies


Doctors typically give patients prescriptions for medications. But a new program in New York City has doctors prescribing fruits and vegetables to obese or overweight patients.


Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley launched the Tuesday. It aims to give at-risk families greater access to healthy foods.  


Under the program, obese or overweight patients can be prescribed Health Bucks redeemable for produce at local farmers markets.


Health Bucks are a part of the city's initiative to make locally grown produce available to low-income New Yorkers. The vouchers are accepted at more than 140 New York City farmers markets.


The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is meant to benefit whole families and communities at a time. Patients in the program receive $1 in Health Bucks per day for each person in their family for a period of at least four months. Each month, patients check in with the hospital to have their prescriptions renewed, and their weight and body mass index evaluated. They also receive nutritional counseling.  Full article


Salty snacks, extra pounds send blood pressure soaring in U.S. kids


Spurred by too much salt and too many extra pounds, blood pressure in America's kids and teens has gone sky-high, creating a young generation at risk for serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke -- and worse.  


The percentage of American children and adolescents ages 8 to 17 who have high blood pressure -- a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, organ damage, heart attacks and strokes -- climbed 27 percent over 13 years, according to researchers from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and other institutions funded by the National Institutes of Health.


The researchers, using two large national surveys, compared blood pressure data of thousands of children from two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, a government program designed to track health and nutritional status of adults and children in the U.S. During the period 1988 to 1994, 15.8 percent of boys, and 8.2 percent of girls could be classified as having elevated blood pressure. By the next survey period, covering the years 1999-2008, those percentages jumped to 19.2 percent for boys and 12.6 percent for girls.


The new research, published Monday in the journal Hypertension, positively links rising blood pressure to increasing body mass index, especially waist circumference, and sodium intake. In short, far too many American children are too fat and eating too many salty snacks.  Full article


Despite Legal Blow, New York To Keep Up Sugary Drink Fight


A state appeals court on Tuesday rejected New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to limit the size of sugary beverages sold in his city. But in a statement, Bloomberg and the city's top lawyer, Michael Cardozo, called the decision a "temporary setback" and vowed to appeal.


"The Board of Health overstepped the boundaries of its lawfully delegated authority when it promulgated the portion cap rule to curtail the consumption of soda drinks," Justice Dianne T. Renwick wrote in the appeals court ruling. "It therefore violated the state principle of separation of powers."


The decision was a blow for the city's Board of Health, which had met significant opposition from the food and beverage industry for its move to change unhealthful food habits through portion-size regulation.


A lower court judge overturned the ban in March on the grounds that Bloomberg's regulations of the sale of the drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and other food service establishments were "arbitrary and capricious." City officials immediately appealed.  Full article



Save the date
Upcoming HLM Community Forums

Precinct 4: YMCA of Greater Houston
Thursday, September 5th, 11:00am-1:30pm
Lunch at 11:00am
2122 E. Governor's Circle, Houston, TX 77092

Precinct 2: LaPorte Neighborhood Center
Tuesday, September 17, 9:00am-11:00am
526 San Jacinto St., La Porte, TX 77571

Precinct 1: TBD
Precinct 3: TBD

Join your neighbors in learning what Health Living Matters has head from your community. Participate in small group conversations and provide feedback on ways to improve the health of our children through policy change. Together, we can make a difference in
our children's lives!

$20 Gift cards are available for
the first 80 attendees at the YMCA Precinct 4 meeting and
the first 100 attendees at the LaPorte Precinct 2 meeting.

RSVP for the Community Forums at
or 281.953.7451 with your name and organization

Upcoming Events


Houston Forum: "Healthcare in a Changing Landscape - Connecting Houstonians to Coverage"
Saturday, September 7, 9:00am-3:30pm
Krost Hall, University of Houston Law Center, 100 Law Center Houston, Texas 77204

Part 1: Ready for Recess: Changing Policy and Practice to Support Students' Physical Activity Webinar
Tuesday, September 10, 12:00pm-1:00pm CST

Part 2: Get Your School Ready for Recess! Webinar

Tuesday, September 17, 12:00pm-1:00pm CST

Doctors for Change General Forum
Tuesday, September 17, 6:30pm-8:00pm
University Eye Institute at the UH Health and Biomedical Sciences Building
4901 Calhoun Street Houston, Texas
More Information

Leadership for Healthy Communities 2013 Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit
Sunday, September 29-Tuesday, October 1
Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards

The Affordable Care Act: Understanding and Implementing Its Requirements
Tuesday, October 8, 8:30am-12:00pm
DePelchin Children's Center 4950 Memorial Dr., Houston, TX 77007
For questions, please email

Community/Stakeholer Engagement Team

Susan Lackey, MPH

Jennifer Mineo, DrPH