This is Public Health


If you need more incentive to exercise more and eat better, consider the results of two comprehensive new studies that found that an active and healthy lifestyle may be critical in helping to keep the brain healthy in old age. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, keeping weight down, not smoking and moderating alcohol consumption were all linked to a lower risk of dementia. And in those with dementia, exercise improved memory and helped people stay independent longer, a rigorous review of past studies found.

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People turning 50 may want to consider tweaking their exercise routines because as they age stiffer joints, slower recovery from injury and the loss of lean body mass are among the perils facing the youngest baby boomers, fitness experts say.

Studies have shown that even a 90-year-old can build muscle, so the half-century mark is a good time to retire joint-stressing high jumps and to start lifting dumbbells to build strength.

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Don’t forget to look both ways before crossing the street — especially if you’re walking the streets in Louisiana. According to a recent study, the Pelican State has the fifth highest pedestrian death rate in the country.

The report, prepared by the Center for Planning Excellence and the Louisiana Public Health Institute, evaluated 10 years of federal fatality data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report demonstrates a need for more state and city planners to incorporate pedestrian and cyclist safety into traffic plans, according to Rachel DiResto, CPEX executive vice president.

Read the full story from The Advocate and review the documents here. 


Teenagers are exercising more, consuming less sugar and eating more fruits and vegetables, a trend that may be contributing to a leveling off of obesity rates, a new study shows. The findings suggest that aggressive anti-obesity messages aimed at children may be starting to make a difference, albeit a small one. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

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The LSU AgCenter and Pennington Biomedical Research Center are embarking on an ambitious nutrition education program in West Carroll Parish. The program, called Healthy Communities, aims to improve the health profile of the West Carroll Parish population. The goals are to promote healthy eating and physical activity and provide access to healthful foods and recreational facilities, such as parks and trails.

Click here to read the full story from the News Star.


Many students spend up to 9 hours a day at school and are inactive most of that time. To meet the national recommendation that youth be physically active for at least 60 minutes daily, physical activity breaks are needed throughout the school day. Currently less than 50% of children (6-11 years) and less than 10% of youth (12-19 years) meet this national physical activity recommendation. It is challenging, in part, to meet this recommendation when children and youth spend more than half of their time at school and schools are finding it increasingly challenging to provide physical activity opportunities, owing to inclement weather, facility restrictions, testing schedules or other instruction-time limitations.

With many benefits of physical activity, including increased concentration, increased test scores, increased positive attitude and attendance, and decreased disruptive behavior, LPHI’s School Health Connection program has, for a second year, continued to increase physical activity in schools by incorporating movement into the classroom with physical activity breaks. Physical activity breaks are bursts of physical activity that are integrated into the school day; composed of a series of simple, easy-to-learn movements; and designed to require minimal disruption of routine.

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Miles of newly painted bike lanes have New Orleanians leaving their cars at home in favor of two-wheeled vehicles. Trading the truck for the Trek has not gone unnoticed, but the Big Easy is still far down the path to first-class cycling status. At the moment, New Orleans boasts more than 58 miles of bike lanes with ten on the way.  This is a huge leap from the meager ten miles of bike lanes available before Katrina.  This impressive new number transcends bikes to encompass the tremendous strides the city has made as they rebuild.

Click here to read the full article from NOLA Defender’s website.

Three Soda Bottles

Researchers reported Tuesday that they have linked 180,000 obesity-related deaths worldwide to sugary drinks, including about 25,000 adult Americans.

Overall, 1 in 100 deaths of obese people globally can be blamed on too many sweetened beverages, according to a study presented at an American Heart Association scientific conference in New Orleans. Mexico leads the 35 largest nations in deaths attributable to over-consumption of sugary drinks, with the United States third. Japan, which has one of the lowest per-capita consumptions of sugary drinks, had the fewest sugar-related deaths.

In New Orleans, the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Crescent City Beacon Community are striving to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes through the txt4health program. Txt4health is a mobile health information service designed to help people understand their risk for type 2 diabetes and become more informed about the steps they can take to lead healthy lives.

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New research shows that an age-old recommended stress-buster may actually work for this group of women: yoga.

Pregnant women who were identified as psychiatrically high risk and who participated in a 10-week mindfulness yoga intervention saw significant reductions in depressive symptoms, according to a University of Michigan Health System pilot feasibility study. Mothers-to-be also reported stronger attachment to their babies in the womb.

Check out the full story here.

According to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC), when asked what would solve traffic problems in their community, 42 percent of Americans say more transit. Only 20 percent say more roads. And 21 percent would like to see communities developed that don’t require so much driving. Two-thirds support local planning that guides new development into existing cities and near public transportation.

Click here to read the full study.

Recently, New Orleans passed a Complete Streets ordinance, which you can read here. If you’re interested in more information about the work being done to make our streets safer for all on the road, check out these resources:

The Louisiana Public Health Institute’s Active Environments Planning initiative.

Bike Easy

The Regional Planning Commission of GNO