Posts belonging to Category HHS



Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, wants all Americans to know about programs and resources to help children and parents curb obesity  including the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health’s We Can!! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition)® program.

Through public-private partnerships, safe places to play and nutritious food options are being made available in neighborhoods and schools across America. Exciting new programs include the Partnership for a Healthier America and Olympic Team USA’s commitment to provide 1.7 million kids the opportunity to participate in free and low cost physical activity programs offered by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USOC National Governing Bodies for sport, and others over the next year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released a new farm to school grant program designed to educate children about food sources, and increase the availability of locally sourced foods in schools.

obesityOver the past 30 years, the childhood obesity rate in America has almost tripled. According to the Centers for Disease Control,CDC, in 2010, approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years were already obese. Children and teenagers who are obese are more likely to become obese adults. Overweight and obese youth are at greater risk of developing serious adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

That is why HHS, with the President’s Council, supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s goal to end childhood obesity within a generation through her Let’s Move! program. Everyone has a role to play – parents and caregivers, school teachers and administrators, community leaders, local elected officials, after school programmers, and health care providers.

According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children and adolescents aged 6–17 years should spend 60 minutes or more being physical active each day.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, released by HHS and USDA, provide nutritional guidance for Americans to promote good health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity. The guidelines recommend balancing calories with physical activity, and encourage Americans to consume more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.

To learn more about National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month or for tips on how to help your kids lead healthy lifestyle visit http://www.fitness.gov

 

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Nightmares

According to a recent article on WebMD, many children have nightmares.

nightmaresNightmares are most common in preschoolers (children aged 3-6 years) because this is the age at which normal fears develop and a child’s imagination is very active. Some studies estimate that as many as 50% of children in this age group have nightmares.

Nightmares involve frightening or unpleasant dreams that disrupt the child’s sleep on several occasions and cause distress or problems with everyday life. When children wake up because of a nightmare, they become aware of their surroundings and usually need comfort. As a result, parents often need to provide comfort.

The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital offers these suggestions for coping with a child’s nightmares:

  • Offer plenty of cuddles, comfort and reassurance to your child.
  • During the day, talk about your child’s bad dream, and make sure to avoid frightening TV programs and movies.
  • Leave the door to the child’s bedroom open, and offer a favorite toy or blanket for comfort.
  • Avoid spending a lot of time looking for the “monster” that scared your child. Let your child go back to sleep in his or her own bed.
  • Read a book about coping with nighttime fears.
  • Before bed, talk about funny and happy topics.

Sources:WebMD, womens health dot gov(U.S.Dept of HHS) articles on nightmares

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Preventing Illnesses in Recreational Water

recreationalSwimming is great fun, but recreational waters can be a place to pick up illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in a recent press release asks that we all do our part in keeping our recreational water safe.

The CDC suggests following these healthy swimming steps to protect you, your family, and other swimmers from recreational water illnesses.

Three Steps for All Swimmers – Keep germs from causing recreational water illnesses:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Don’t swallow the pool water. Avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Don’t assume that pool water is germ free because the water is treated with chlorine
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.

Three Steps for Parents of Young Kids – Keep germs out of recreational water:

  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Waiting to hear “I have to go” may mean that it’s too late.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside. Germs can spread in and around the pool.
  • Wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming. Invisible amounts of fecal matter can end up in the pool.

Michele Hlavsa, CDC, states.”“You can get gastrointestinal infections, viral meningitis, ear infections – also known as swimmer’s ear – but the most common infection is diarrhea from the germs in recreational waters.” Ms. Hlavsa advises, “Don’t swallow the water, or swim with open sores.”

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Tips from womenshealth.gov

womenshealth.gov, a project of  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, recently published the following tips written by Health Day News.

tipsTips on What Can Cause Muscle Cramps

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says although the exact causes of muscle cramps aren’t known, the following conditions are thought to increase your risk:

  • Having tight muscles that haven’t been stretched.
  • Having poorly conditioned muscles that become easily fatigued.
  • Overusing your muscles.
  • Exerting yourself in extreme heat.
  • Being dehydrated.
  • Having low levels of essential minerals and salt, including potassium.

Tips on Avoiding Hurting Yourself While Gardening

The American Council on Exercise suggests how to garden without hurting yourself:

  • Use correct posture and form.
  • Warm up before you garden with a 10-minute walk.
  • Make sure all of your movements are smooth and steady.
  • Keep your abdominal muscles taut.
  • Lift with your legs (never your back).
  • Don’t twist your back while digging.
  • Breathe regularly. Exhale when you lift, and inhale as you lower a heavy load.
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What Do You Know About Asthma?

asthmaMay is Asthma Awareness Month. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebeliusa issued a statement asking us to consider what we can do better, as individuals and as a nation, in managing one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases.

In her statement she reports:

  • More than 25 million Americans have asthma, including 7 million children.
  •  Children with asthma missed more than 10 million days total of school in 2008.
  • Medical expenses associated with asthma are estimated at $50 billion annually.
  • It is critical to take the necessary steps to reduce asthma attacks.
  • Successful asthma management includes: knowing the warning signs of an attack, avoiding things that may trigger an episode and following the advice of your health care provider.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is working to raise awareness about asthma and to provide tools to help families and communities get the information they need:

  • Having access to high-quality affordable health care is a must for asthma suffers.
  • As a result of the Affordable Care Act, the 7 million children who have asthma cannot be denied health coverage now by insurance companies on the basis of a pre-existing condition. In 2014, that fundamental protection will be afforded to adults with asthma as well.
  • We know that African-American children visit emergency departments for asthma care more often than Caucasian children, and that Latino children are less likely to see a doctor for routine office visits than non-Latino Caucasian children. While we’ve made progress in reducing disparities over the years, more needs to be done. That is why the health care law and Recovery Act investments are expanding the capacity of community health centers to care for the most vulnerable Americans regardless of their ability to pay.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with communities and schools to develop the tools they need to make their environments healthier for children with asthma.  Three Louisiana school districts, for example, have adopted indoor and outdoor air policies, such as requiring school buses to turn off their engines while idling. Rhode Island families have gotten help in learning how to manage their children’s asthma from the new Home Asthma Response Program, which identified potential participants during asthma-related emergency room visits.
  • The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program–coordinated by the National Institutes of Health–promotes improved asthma care and control through a focused outreach effort centered on written asthma action plans.  These plans are a recommended but underutilized tool for managing asthma long-term and handling symptoms. These efforts include coordination with other federal agencies and key stakeholders and activities to promote resources and educational materials.

Secretary Sebeliusa concludes her statement by asking that we all learn what each of us and our communities can do to reduce the physical, social, and financial costs of asthma.

For more information, see http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/ and http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/naepp.

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