Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Obesity costs set to surge, with US in lead - Lancet studies

AFP – Thu, Aug 25, 2011

One in every two American adults will be obese by 2030, adding hugely to the country's health costs, according to studies published on Friday that highlight the growing burden of the world's obesity pandemic.

On present trends, 50-51 percent of American men and 45-52 percent of American women will by 2030 have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, adding as many as 65 million to the country's population of obese adults, says one of the papers.

Twenty-four million of these 65 million will be older than 60.

The calculation extrapolates national estimates for 2007-08, the latest years for which data were available, when about 32 percent of American adults were obese.

Britain, too, will see a surge in obesity prevalence, from 26 percent to 41-48 percent in men, and in women from 26 percent to 35-43 percent.

By 2030, as many as 11 million more British adults will be obese, 3.3 million of them aged more than 60.

The study, led by Claire Wang of Columbia University in New York and Klim McPherson of Oxford University, says that medical costs will surge, given obesity's links with diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke.

"The combined medical costs associated with treatment of these preventable diseases are estimated to increase by $48-66 billion (33-46 billion euros) per year in the USA and by 1.9-2 billion pounds ($3-3.3 billion, 2.2-2.3 billion euros) per year in the UK by 2030," it says.
"Effective policies to promote healthier weight also have economic benefits."

Today, around 1.5 billion adults are overweight and a further 0.5 billion obese, with 170 million children classified as overweight or obese.

Tackling obesity accounts for between two and six percent of health-care costs in many countries and for some regions has even eclipsed tobacco as the biggest preventable cause of disease, according to the studies published in The Lancet.

They trace the pandemic to the 1970s and 80s, when a rise in food consumption per capita became coupled to a more sedentary lifestyle.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Health program is going on a diet

Article by: Jeremy Olson , Star Tribune
Updated: August 18, 2011 - 4:32 PM

Minnesota will soon learn if its $47 million bet on statewide health improvement is making a dent against the ills of smoking and obesity.

The Minnesota Department of Health is collecting reports about how communities used the state grants over the last two years -- on everything from workplace fitness to tobacco-free campuses to fresh produce campaigns -- and what progress has been made.

While it might be too soon to see a drop in obesity, and tobacco-related health problems, state officials are hoping the effort has at least nudged Minnesotans into healthier lifestyles.

"There is some positive movement on behaviors," said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, state health commissioner. "I'm assuming those positive behavior changes will lead to reduced obesity and diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

Working or not, the approach isn't getting much of a second chance in Minnesota. Facing crushing budget deficits, lawmakers approved only $15 million for the 2012-13 budget cycle after almost scuttling the program entirely.

Ehlinger met with local officials Thursday to discuss how to proceed with less money -- perhaps to focus just on obesity -- or to steer the money to communities with the greatest need or most effective programs.

Grants have improved school lunches through partnerships with local farms and made produce accessible to low-income neighborhoods. Walk-to-school programs and bike paths and racks have increased fitness activity, Ehlinger said.

"People are moving. If you're moving, it's going to be healthier for you."

Minnesota gained national attention for the investment, but critics argued that even $47 million was inadequate.

Ehlinger remains optimistic: "$15 million is not enough to change the culture and change behavior throughout the state. But $15 million is not inconsequential, if we use it correctly." • 612-673-7744
To read article:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Minnesota Receives Grant to Help Develop Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace

State takes key step toward better health care and lower costs for Minnesotans

ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Mark Dayton announced today that the state has received a $4.2 million grant to further the planning and establishment of a Minnesota-made health insurance exchange. The funding, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. It will assist with exchange development, technical infrastructure, and stakeholder work groups to help design an insurance exchange marketplace.

“This funding will help us to provide better health care at lower costs for all Minnesotans. We have already made good progress in designing a health exchange that will put Minnesota in the forefront of healthcare reform,” said Governor Mark Dayton.

States have until January 1, 2013 to create the foundation for their own health insurance exchanges, to be available to consumers beginning in 2014. The concept of an exchange is to provide Minnesotans the information and ability to choose their own affordable, quality health care coverage. The exchange will include a website much like or that will allow Minnesotans to easily compare health care coverage options based on cost, quality, and consumer satisfaction.

“Our state must move forward on an exchange built by Minnesotans, for Minnesotans – and this grant will help us achieve that,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “In doing so, we will seek thoughtful, constructive public input from all parties. We need all hands on deck – consumers, employers, insurers, agents, navigators, and health care providers – to help design an exchange that addresses Minnesota’s unique health care system and demonstrate again why Minnesota leads the nation in health care innovation.”

Since Minnesota received an exchange planning grant last February, the Department of Commerce has been working on preliminary analytical, operational, and technical infrastructure planning for an exchange, in partnership with the Minnesota Departments of Human Services and Health. This new grant provides resources to work on the design of an exchange and to establish an Advisory Task Force to provide guidance on the creation of an exchange in Minnesota. The Department of Commerce will ask for stakeholder participation on the Advisory Task Force by the end of this month.

When complete, the exchange will provide consumers with a simple way to find, compare, choose, and purchase health care coverage. “An exchange will provide comparative information in an apples-to-apples format, encouraging market competition on value and empowering Minnesotans to make informed health care choices that fit their personal and family needs.” said Health Insurance Exchange Director, April Todd-Malmlov.

Monday, August 15, 2011

CDC-TV “Health Matters” focuses on the Obesity Epidemic

August 11, 2011


Today, obesity is a national epidemic and a major contributor to the leading causes of death in the U.S. such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. Over 1 adult in 3 is obese, and 1 child in 6 is obese.

This video explains and illustrates the complex factors that have contributed to the obesity epidemic, and showcases several initiatives to prevent and reduce obesity in communities across the U.S. View the video.

There is no single or simple solution to the obesity epidemic - a combination of solutions at many levels is needed.

Use this video in your work prevent and reduce obesity:
  • Share the link with your contacts and networks.
  • Embed the video on your website.
  • Play the video at the beginning of your presentations from YouTube.

More Information
Overweight and Obesity

Childhood Overweight and Obesity

Healthy Weight - it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle

Monday, August 8, 2011

Senator Franken nominates Advocate Gene Johnson for the Campaign for Public Health Foundation's Rock in the Pond Award!

Gene Johnson is a perfect example of someone who has committed his life and time to public health and education. After suffering Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) at the age of 63, Gene’s life was saved by a police officer’s automated external defibrillator (AED). Since this experience, Gene has worked tirelessly to advocate for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training and automated external defibrillator (AED) placement.

Gene is currently President of the Minnesota Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor Network, a non-profit, grassroots organization formed in 2003, with a mission to prevent loss of life from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. As the President, Gene travels around the state to train thousands of Minnesotans each year in CPR. He also reaches out to those who have survived SCA to provide support and education. As a long-time volunteer with the American Heart Association, he never misses an opportunity to teach the public about CPR and AEDs. In recognition of Gene’s lifesaving work and contributions throughout Minnesota, Gene deserves the Campaign for Public Health Foundation’s Rock in the Pond Award.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mixed Results in Special Session Budget Deal

On July 20th, 2011 Governor Dayton signed into law the set of budget bills that ended the nearly three-week state government shut-down. The overall budget agreement relied on significant budget cuts, borrowing $700 million against future tobacco settlement dollars (tobacco bonds), and additional K-12 education funding delay of $700 million. There were mixed results for American Heart Association’s goals in the final budget agreement.

Disappointments include:
  • Borrowing from future tobacco settlement payments. This is an ill-advised strategy for balancing the budget and further reduces the state’s ability to rely on those resources to tackle tobacco use in the future.

  • American Heart Association fought until the end to include an increase to the price of tobacco as a smart way to raise new revenue AND reduce health care costs. Our proposal was not adopted in the final budget solution, even though it offered an alternative to the significant borrowing and funding shifts that were used to raise revenue. We will continue to work with legislators over the interim to keep this proposal on the table for the projected future state deficits our state will face. Thank you for all your emails and calls to legislators on this issue!

Further successes were achieved:

  • Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) was partially funded! Some great news that came from the final deal was that SHIP received $15 million in one-time funding for the biennium. While greatly reduced from the $40 million originally proposed by Governor Dayton, it was a significant victory for our work to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Thanks to all of you who kept up the pressure on lawmakers to make PREVENTION an ongoing commitment in the state budget. Thank lawmakers today!

  • Some other funding victories included in the Health and Human Services bill: NO CUTS to Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative and NO CUTS to the Tobacco Free Community Grants program.

  • Preserved healthcare coverage for low income Minnesotans through several creative approaches including shifting 125,000 poor, childless adults from two state programs onto Medicaid, which preserves the Governor’s early opt in for Medicaid. The legislation also establishes a new experimental program called the Healthy Minnesota Contribution Plan which gives vouchers to move about 7,200 lower-income adults from the state-subsidized MinnesotaCare program onto private health insurance.

Please thank legislators for supporting SHIP in the final budget deal!

You can find our 2011 final legislative wrap-up at this link.

Thank you for your advocacy all year round to help save lives!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Fight for Healthier School Meals Continues…

Last Year: You’re the Cure advocates took as strong stand for healthier school meals for our kids by sending over 25,000 messages to Congress in support of the Child Nutrition Act. Our voices helped ensure the bill, which establishes the framework for the National School Lunch and National School Breakfast programs, was passed and signed into law by the President before the end of the 111th Congress.

This Year: Under the Child Nutrition Act, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed updated national school meal standards for the first time since 1994 and asked for the public to weigh in. You’re the Cure advocates sent over 30,000 comments to the USDA in April in support of the proposed standards, which ensure school meals include more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limit the sodium and unhealthy fats served to our kids at school.

Today: As the USDA works to review all of the public comments and finalize the standards, some Members of Congress are now trying to stop USDA’s efforts to improve school meals. That’s why we need your help once again. Please send a quick message to your Representative today to ask him/her to support the USDA’s efforts to finalize strong nutrition standards for school meals. With your help, millions of kids will be enjoying nutritious school meals in 2012.