Wisconsin kids not getting enough PE

Wisconsin is falling short when it comes to getting kids moving in schools to prevent childhood obesity and combat cancer, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

How Do You Measure up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality evaluates each state’s activity on issues crucial to winning the fight against cancer. The report by ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, finds that Wisconsin did not measure up to benchmarks in the physical education time requirements category for elementary and middle school.

“Wisconsin clearly needs to do more to combat childhood obesity and strengthening the physical education requirements—especially among elementary and middle school students—is a critical component to reaching that goal,” said Allison Miller, Wisconsin government relations director for ACS CAN.

Currently, Wisconsin only requires k-6 grade students to have physical education three times a week and middle school students are required to have it just once a week, for no specified time period. ACS CAN recommends schools require 150 minutes of physical education each week for elementary students and 225 minutes per week for middle school students. At least 50 percent of that class time should be spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity.

“Kids are in school at least eight hours a day making schools a natural place to address the alarming problem of childhood obesity and provide all children with skills that will carry through beyond the classroom and keep them active for life,” said Miller. “By helping kids form healthy habits we can reduce the number of cancer diagnoses and deaths in Wisconsin and cut back the estimated $3.1 billion the state pays annually in obesity-related health care costs.”

Overweight, obesity, physical inactivity and poor nutrition are estimated to be responsible for one-third of all cancers. Obesity is directly linked to breast and colon cancer—two of the most common forms of the disease—among others, and threatens to overtake tobacco as the number one preventable cause of cancer in the country.

“Now is the time to take action and truly devote ourselves to tackling this problem. If we don’t, we risk losing the progress we’ve made reducing cancer incidence and death. More importantly, we risk losing an entire generation to premature death from chronic disease,” said Miller.

Wisconsin’s obesity rate has more than doubled since 1990 and without intervention it’s estimated more than half of all Wisconsin adults will be overweight within the next 15 years.

The nationwide How Do You Measure Up? report includes nine other key policy areas: breast and cervical cancer early detection program funding; tanning bed restrictions for minors; smoke-free laws; tobacco prevention program funding; tobacco taxes; improved access to Medicaid; policies to prevent and treat pain and access to palliative care.

The report also offers a blueprint for effective legislation on matters such as effectively implementing the Affordable Care Act for cancer patients and their families.

To see how Wisconsin measured up in all categories, visit www.acscan.org.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.

Living on farm boosts immune system

Exposure to fresh air, plenty of sunlight, and hours of exercise each day are some of the obvious benefits of farm living, but a new study will look at how the dirtier side of farm life may be the real reason why kids who grow up in agricultural environments are far less likely to develop allergic diseases than their more citified counterparts.

Funded by a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Marshfield Clinic will determine how early exposure to farm animals and farm-related microbes promotes healthy immune development and increased resistance to viral respiratory illnesses in infants.

“Our goal is to better understand how specific bacteria and fungi unique to farm environments promote the kind of immunologic development that limits the severity of childhood allergic diseases and asthma,” says Dr. James Gern, principal investigator for the University of Wisconsin Asthma and Allergic Diseases Clinical Research Center. “Over the years, there have been great advancements made in the treatment of asthma, but very little progress made in preventing the illness in the first place. We hope that our study will eventually lead to the development of new preventive strategies.”

The study will enroll 200 babies from the Marshfield area—half of whom will be from farm families and the other half from rural families who do not live on farms. For two years, researchers will track the children’s exposure to farm animals and farm-related microbes and then measure the development of cells involved in antiviral responses and tolerance.

Dr. Matthew Keifer, director of the National Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic and a co-investigator on the study, says the research will provide critical insight on how non-disease-causing germs profoundly affect innate immune systems in early life.

“It should come as no surprise that we would study the farmer’s lifestyle, one of the healthiest we know of, to search for ways to improve health in the general population,” Keifer said.

According to the NIAID, viral respiratory illnesses are the most common illnesses in infants and young children and are an important risk factor for the development of childhood asthma, which affects more than seven million kids nationwide.

The research is being funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (grant U19 AI104317), the University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (NIH-NCATS grant UL1 TR000427), and the University of Minnesota Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (NIH –NIOSH grant U54 OH010170).

Fare tips during fair season

Just in time for the start of the St. Croix County Fair, TOPS Club Inc. has issued a press release on how to kep healthy with faced with the high-calorie foods offered at such events.

Following is the release:

“The season of summer festivals is in full swing. Whether it’s the county fair or a music festival, vendors are dishing up food that’s often disastrous to healthy eating plans.

“Some of the unhealthiest fare at the fair is fried, included fried Snickers bars, deep-fried butter, funnel cakes, and chocolate-covered bacon. With calorie counts ranging from 450 to 1,000, these popular festival foods can quickly sabotage your weight-loss efforts.

“Dena McDowell, M.S., R.D., nutritional expert for TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, along with The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, offers these ideas for controlling calories while still having fun at the fair.

“Snack First

“If you are leaving for an all-day event, start your day with a healthy, protein-rich breakfast – for example, peanut butter on toast with fruit and yogurt. If you’re off to enjoy an evening concert, before you go, snack on vegetables, low-fat cheese, nuts, and fruit.

“Get Your Exercise In

“Why not wear a pedometer and challenge yourself, family, and friends to walk 10,000 steps (about five miles) while you’re at the fair? Increase your mileage by grabbing a map from the visitor center and heading to the sights at the opposite end of the grounds first.

“Plan Ahead

“Many larger fairs, festivals, and theme parks list vendors with healthier menus right on their websites, so you can check out your options before you go. Look for grilled meats and try substituting fresh or grilled vegetables for french fries. You’ll cut the calories and benefit from more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

“Skip Sauces

“Limit high-calorie condiments like mayonnaise and dipping sauces – or skip them altogether. If you can’t live without sauces, dressings, or mayo, ask vendors to serve them on the side, so you have more control over how much you eat.


“Try sharing a favorite treat with a friend or family member to reduce calories, fat, and sodium intake and to keep portion sizes in check. An added benefit: you’ll save yourself a few dollars.

“Limit Drinking Your Calories

“Alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine coolers can add an extra 100 to 150 calories per serving. Other calorie-rich beverages include fresh-squeezed lemonade, fruit smoothies, and regular soda. Balance your consumption of sugary or alcoholic drinks with water, which will help you stay hydrated – especially on very hot afternoons.

“TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded more than 65 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind.”

Be Active challenge coming to a close

Tate Wheeler, Health Enhancement director at The New Richmond Area Centre, reminds everyone that there is a week left to complete Be Active Card #4 for a chance to win prizes.

Participants have until July 15 to complete items on your card and turn it in at The Centre.

Wheeler also offers his health tip for the week:

“Here is your health tip:

“The importance of having a great ATTITUDE.

“Every day we wake up we have a choice. We all have the ability to decide how we are going to approach daily activities and challenges. Our attitudes go a long way to what we can accomplish and a positive attitude is key to enjoying lifelong wellness. We all have many things in life we cannot control, and we have to learn to let those things go. Our attitude is one of those very important things we can control! Make a choice each day to make the best of it!

“Here is great quote that can sum it up better than I can:

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
? Mahatma Gandhi

“If you have any questions regarding the Be Active Challenge please feel free to contact us at: vitality@nracentre.com

“Until next time……Be Active!”

‘Be Active’ and win prizes

Don’t forget about The Centre’s “Be Active” card promotion, sponsored by Westfields Hospital and the New Richmond Clinic.

Tate Wheeler, who coordinates the effort, sends out a weekly tip to those who are participating. Families and individuals pick up a card with 16 activities listed in a sort of Bingo card format. If they complete all 16 (which is simple to accomplish) their names are placed in a drawing for great prizes. If they complete a few of the squares, their names are placed in a different drawing.

It’s all an effort to get people out and active, in various ways.

Here’s this week’s email from Tate:

“You still have just over two weeks (until July 15th) to finish up your Be Active Card and drop it off at The Centre for a chance to win great prizes! Remember that if you complete at least four squares you are still entered in to win prizes….we know you all can do that! If you complete the entire card you will be eligible for the $100 Sports Authority Gift Card!

“Here is your health tip:

“People always ask me how they can stay healthy. Most of them are good at trying a new workout routine or diet for a couple weeks or months but then they get busy, sick, bored, lazy, tired, sad, etc. The list could go on and on.

“If you want to have long term success it’s a lifestyle change. Trust me, it’s not about being perfect. You have to have small wins and make an effort EVERY DAY. If you do, you will start to develop some healthy habits that can change your life! You have to be persistent and make a commitment to stick with it. DON’T QUIT!

“I’ll conclude with the 3 C’s of Life: Choices, Chances, Changes……..You must make a Choice, to take a Chance, or your life will never Change!

“I know you can do it! Start with a small win today!

“If you have any questions regarding the Be Active Challenge please feel free to contact us at: vitality@nracentre.com”

Legislative proposal opposed by health groups

Health First Wisconsin, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association, and the Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative, together, oppose the Joint Committee on Finance’s budget provision that prevents local governments from promoting healthier choices for kids and families.

The effects of the budget provision (Motion #150) will go far beyond the motion’s stated purpose of preventing local “Bloomberg Big Gulp” soda size restrictions.

The far-reaching motion could prevent local communities from promoting nutritious food choices in parks, neighborhoods and businesses and could also severely limit employee wellness programs that promote healthier habits and reduce health care costs.

Public health advocates are calling on the Legislature to remove the provision from the budget to allow for a thorough public debate and analysis of the consequences of this legislation.

“Wisconsin communities need additional tools to ensure that our kids have a pathway to a long, healthy life – not fewer tools,” Maureen Busalacchi, executive director of Health First Wisconsin, said. “This ban takes options off the table for Wisconsin communities working to give local kids and residents opportunities for healthier eating and a roadmap to better health.”

Motion #150 is a classic example of preemption, which occurs when state government revokes the authority of local governments to make their own policies. The measure silences local voices and prevents local officials from responding to unique local health needs.

“Eating right and being active are significant factors in preventing chronic diseases like cancer,” said Allison Miller, Wisconsin government relations director with the American Cancer Society-Cancer Action Network. “Wisconsin should be protecting and encouraging good health policy to reduce the number of cancer diagnoses and deaths in our state, not eliminating the power of local governments to find creative solutions to encourage healthy choices.”

Public health groups are still trying to determine the effects of this vague measure, which was adopted without public debate or research. The budget motion is part of a national movement to eliminate local control on healthy eating. Similar actions to preempt local nutrition standards have been pursued in other states including Mississippi, North Carolina and Ohio.

The following common municipal efforts might no longer be possible under state law (if they are interpreted that they regulate the size, calorie count, or nutritional quality of food or beverage sales):

Economic Development: Tax incentives, zoning, and planning that have the express purpose of promoting healthy food through grocery stores, farmers markets, food carts and community gardens.

Employee Wellness: City and county policies that save health insurance premiums by establishing wellness programs and nutrition standards for government employees and buildings.

Youth Recreation: Offering healthy food vending options in local government facilities including recreation centers, parks and public pools.

“Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood, including an increased risk for heart disease, our nation’s No. 1 killer,” said Chris Klein, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “We should be providing solutions to help communities become healthier, not removing them.

The JFC budget containing this provision now goes on for a vote on the Assembly and Senate floors before reaching Governor Walker’s desk. Advocates believe that the far-reaching, and perhaps unintended, consequences of this motion should warrant a full public discussion.

Be active, stay healthy

Tate Wheeler, health enhancement director with the New Richmond Area Centre, sent out a health tip to “Be Active Card” participants. If you haven’t started your card this quarter, it’s not too late to get involved. Pick up a card at The Centre and complete the healthy activities by yourself or as a family.

Following is the tip Wheeler offers:

“Boost your metabolism starting now!

“Do you feel like your metabolism is slower than it used to be? In a lot of peoples case it probably is. After the age of around 30, our bodies lose muscle mass each year. The less muscle mass you have, the less amount of calories your body burns on a daily basis (which means slower metabolism). I’m sure you have all heard the saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Well this holds true with muscle. If you don’t strength train you will lose muscle mass every year after the age of 30. If you implement strength training you can maintain and/or increase your muscle mass and metabolism as you age…..yes, it’s possible! Start by strength training twice a week for 20-30 minutes and you will be well on your way to increasing your metabolism!

“Other easy ways to boost metabolism today:

“Drinking more water

“– Water has a lot of great benefits including boosting metabolism. Shoot for at least 2 liters of water per day for women and 3 liters of water daily for men.

“Staying active during the day

“– The more you move the more calories you burn. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, get up and move throughout the day if you sit at a desk, park further away, take a five-minute walk over lunch. Every little bit helps!

“Spread out your calories

“– Don’t eat all your calories in one meal. The analogy that I always use is think of your metabolism like a fire. If you throw a big log when starting a fire it doesn’t work that well. Break up your meals into smaller portions and your body will do a better job of metabolizing that food.

“Best of luck practicing these simple metabolism boosting methods!

“If you have any questions regarding the Be Active Challenge please feel free to contact us at: vitality@nracentre.com

“Until next time…..Be Active!”

Federal bill aims to help Americans stay fit

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) recently introduced the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids (FIT Kids) Act and the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act.

The two bills aim to improve the nation’s health, particularly the health of our young people, by strengthening physical education programs throughout the country.

“Public health and physical fitness are pressing concerns for our country, and in order to get the best results it’s important to instill healthy habits and routines early in life,” said Rep. Kind. “Promoting good health, especially to kids, is something we all can do to help keep America competitive on the global stage because it’s hard to develop a healthy mind without a healthy body.”

The FIT Kids Act will authorize grants to states to develop comprehensive, data-driven, and evidenced-based programs to address student physical health and well-being, fitness, and nutrition.

Through these grants, schools will be able to implement or improve programs and monitor school-level conditions in order to promote physical activity and nutrition.

It also helps local leaders access the information they need to improve physical education, supports student learning in a variety of motor skills and physical activities, bolsters professional development for health and physical education teachers, and promotes equal physical activity opportunities for students with disabilities.

“It’s imperative that we work to strengthen our physical education programs so that our schools become environments that promote the lifetime benefits of physical activity,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “The Fit Kids and Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Acts are critical steps towards ensuring that every student receives at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily, and we commend Representatives Kind and Schock for their important work on these two bills.”

“The FIT Kids Act is very near and dear to my heart, having been an overweight child myself” said fitness icon Richard Simmons. “As a fitness professional and healthy adult, I know all too well, how important early education for both students and parents is. This bill is vital to every child’s health, well being, self worth, focus and ability to learn. I say, let the kids sweat…..that’s the best bet!!”

A new report released by the independent nonprofit Institute of Medicine’s (IOM), titled “Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School” confirms that schools are the frontlines for establishing healthy lifestyles and good public health. The report details the important role the school districts play in promoting physical activity and creating an environment where healthy living becomes a part of each student’s daily routine, goals that the FIT Kids Act aims to accomplish.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publish a report entitled “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans” every ten years.

The report will contain physical activity information and guidelines for the general public, and be promoted by federal agencies that promote good health. Guidelines will be based on current scientific and medical knowledge and should include guidelines for specific groups, including children.

The bill is supported by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Cool summer workout tips

TOPS has a few more helpful tips with their new press release Enjoy:

“Early summer weather can provide the ultimate motivation to get outside and be active. The sun is shining, nature is in full blossom, and coats and earmuffs are no longer essential. Summer can give people a certain zest for fitness, but sometimes temperatures can turn good intentions into a sweltering mess. Incorporating new habits and precautions into your warm weather workouts can keep you safe, motivated, and cool. TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, offers the following tips to make the most of your summer fitness plans:

1. Fill up on fruit
Water-heavy fruits – like watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and grapes – are a great way to boost energy and replenish fluids lost after a workout. Containing more than 80 percent water, these fruits are easily digestible in the summer heat and are a tasty way to keep hydrated and satisfied. Eating them frozen also makes a refreshing summer treat.

2. Reroute for optimal shade
If your usual running, walking, or cycling route makes you an easy target for sun exposure, opt for a shadier course. Road Runners Club of America features running routes around the country on their website, www.rrca.org. Weather.com also offers local parks’ forecasts and a fitness comfort index by the hour – ideal for determining the best time of day to exercise.

3. Incorporate the season into your routine
Make summer chores part of your fitness plan for time-saving and warm weather-friendly exercise. Washing the car, gardening, taking the dog for a walk, and mowing the lawn, are all activities on your to-do list that burn calories as a bonus.

4. Pay attention to your heart rate
The hotter it is, the harder your body has to work – so if you normally run at a 9-minute-mile pace, when the temperature hits 90 degrees, you may find yourself having to slow down to a 10-minute-mile. Using a heart-rate monitor can help ensure that you aren’t pushing yourself too hard, which can lead to heat exhaustion and strokes. Deluxe heart monitors keep track of not only your heart, but also your speed, distance, pace, and calories burned. Models with fewer features can cost as little as $50.

5. Take the path less paved
Walking, running, or cycling on dirt or gravel paths can keep the body significantly cooler than paved paths. Asphalt and concrete tend to radiate heat and reflect the sun’s rays, making you feel hotter. Running near bodies of water also has a noticeable cooling effect.

6. Slow it down without sacrifice
To keep safe without giving up calorie burn, perform your regular cardio routine at a slightly slower pace, and then add in 30-second speed bursts every three to five minutes. You’ll maintain the same benefits and burn even more calories without exerting extreme effort the entire workout.

TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization.

Celebrate with Wellness this Mother’s Day

Take a look. TOPS sends out another press release with some helpful tips:

“Mother’s Day, May 12, is an opportunity to celebrate the mothers in your life – but this year, skip the chocolates and instead, give the gift of wellness. Consider the following tips and hints from TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, for the woman who is starting or simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

• Be her workout partner. Make an effort to exercise regularly together, and schedule it on the calendar as a reminder. If she’s bored with her usual workout routine, gift her a package to a series of fitness sessions that you can attend together. “Deal of the day” websites make it easy to sample a variety of classes and try something new. Exercising with another person will also help hold you both accountable and is an opportunity to find support during the wellness journey.

• Prepare a light brunch. Avoid the overpriced, artery-clogging brunch and serve Mom a nutritious meal that will leave energy to spare. Fruit salad, whole wheat pancakes, scrambled or baked eggs, smoked salmon on whole-wheat bread or crackers, and dessert cake made with applesauce instead of oil or butter are all sensible but delicious options. Select recipes from a new, healthy cookbook and leave the book behind to inspire her later.

• Compile a get-fit basket. Consider including a reusable water bottle, a set of light hand weights, pedometer, sweat-wicking top, yoga mat, or workout towel. Most fitness DVDs require minimal equipment and can be done anywhere, home or away. Add a tape measure so she can gauge her progress, too.

• Give her the gift of support – a TOPS membership. TOPS provides weight-loss support and wellness education for only $28 per year in the U.S. and $32 each year in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees. Visit www.tops.org for more information or to find a chapter near you.

• Boost her mental well-being with added rest. Skimping on sleep can leave Mom at a higher risk for a weakened immune system and type 2 diabetes, among other health problems. Give the gift of a good night’s rest by investing in high-quality bed linens or a luxurious new pillow. For new mothers, offer to watch the baby periodically so Mom can rest restoratively.

• Start a garden. Does your mom have a green thumb? Buy planters and seeds so she can grow healthful and tasty fresh basil, mint leaves, or other herbs. A kitchen or windowsill garden is a convenient option for those with limited space outdoors. For a little something extra, include healthy recipes for using the plants once they’ve grown.

• Help her relax. If you can’t afford to splurge for a full day’s worth of treatments, a gift certificate for a spa massage, facial, or manicure and pedicure will give Mom the opportunity to de-stress. You can also get her bath salts or a comfy robe, so she can bring the experience home and relieve tension when it’s most convenient for her.

TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization.”