Thursday, February 26, 2015

Guest Post - An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: The Importance of Fruits and Vegetables by Susan Karpiel

red apple

 

Why are fruits and vegetables important? 

The list of reasons why a diet high in fruits and vegetables is important is very long. To begin with, the fruit and vegetable food group provides an array of vitamins and minerals, all necessary for optimal health. In fact, I would suggest that although eating a variety of food groups is important for health, the fruit and vegetable group provides a plethora of goodness that other food groups cannot beat. This plethora of goodness includes not just the vitamins, minerals, and fiber our bodies need, but an extensive amount of phytochemicals and antioxidants. Phytochemicals are special properties that certain foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains have that provide some protection from illness and disease. Some of the ways that phytochemicals benefit us include: as antioxidants they help prevent the formation of free radicals which can cause toxins to build up in the body; they improve metabolism; reduce inflammation within the arteries; and slow the growth of cancer cells (Produce for Better Health (PBH), n.d.). In fact, some scientists have estimated that phytochemicals can lower the risk of cancer by up to 40% (Breast Cancer, 2013). Even though research has identified over 4,000 different phytochemicals, only 150 have been studied in-depth (PBH, n.d.). Much more research is needed to discover the full potential that phytochemicals provide and the foods that supply them. Other benefits of eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables include:

  • Lower risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease strokes, high blood pressure
  • Promote eye health and prevent cataracts, night blindness, and macular degeneration 
  • Lower risk of bone loss and kidney stones 
  • Lower caloric intake 
  • Fiber from fruits & vegetables can lower cholesterol, improve bowel function, lower constipation and diverticulitis 
  • Increase the feeling of fullness with fewer calories 
  • Improve skin health 
  • Helps improve gum health 
  • Protects against infections
    (USDA, n.d.; Harvard School of Public Health, n.d. ). 

Are some fruits and vegetables better for you than others? 

There are two types of vegetables: starchy and non-starchy. Whenever I ask people to name a non-starchy vegetable often the answer I receive is - peas and beans. Starchy vegetables include: peas, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and acorn squash. These vegetables are nutritious and beneficial, but they also supply more carbohydrate, similar to pasta and beans. If you eat according to the My Plate method (USDA Choose My Plate.Gov), starchy vegetables go in the "starch" section of the plate. The non-starchy vegetables have fewer calories, are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as: iron, potassium, Vitamins A and C, calcium, folate, and magnesium (Fruits & Veggies More Matters, n.d.). Many fruits and vegetables with deep color are high in phytochemicals. For example, the carrot has over 100 identified phytochemicals. However, keep in mind that even white vegetables are nutritious. Be sure to eat a wide variety of this food group every day.

How many fruits and vegetables should be eaten every day? 

The Nurses Health Study & Health Professionals Follow-Up Study found that the higher the intake of fruits and vegetables, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease (Harvard School of Public Health, n.d. ). In addition, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 5-13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. A serving of vegetables is considered to be one-half cup. Unfortunately, many Americans do not get the minimum recommended amounts of this food group each day. Its reported that 38% of children eat vegetables less than one time per day and adults eat vegetables only 1.6 times per day. Given this information, maybe the goal for most Americans needs to be: eat more.
Another method of determining adequate intake of fruit and vegetables is Plate Method, as recommended by the USDA (USDA Choose My Plate.Gov, n.d). This is a simpler method of calculating serving sizes. The rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth of the plate is lean meat and the other one-fourth is a starch. In addition to this plate, a serving of fruit and dairy are included to round out the meal. This method provides a good visual way to evaluate the quality of each meal.

Regardless of how you estimate the number of servings to eat each day, the first step is to eat more. Try including fruits and vegetables at every meal.

Given the plethora of goodness that fruits and vegetables offer, why not make sure to get plenty each day? The array of benefits is so extensive it's worth the time it takes to plan, shop, and prepare fruits and vegetables at every meal. At the same time keep in mind that as important as fruits and vegetables are, it's equally important to eat a balance of food groups. Each food group has it's own list of health benefits. Be sure to prepare meals made fresh, filled with bright colors, and a variety of food groups. This will help ensure that your body is well nourished and performing with optimal health.

References: 
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2014). Discover the health benefits of produce. Retrieved from http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442481096

Breast Cancer.org (2013). Foods containing phytochemicals. Retrieved from http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/nutrition/reduce_risk/foods-phytochem

Fruits & Veggies More Matters. (n.d.). What are phytochemicals? Retrieved from http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-are-phytochemicals

Harvard School of Public Health. (n.d.). Vegetables and fruits. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and- fruits/

Heneman, K., Zidenberg-Cherr, S. (2008). Nutrition and health info-sheet for health professionals. Retrieved from http://www.nutrition.ucdavis.edu/content/infosheets/fact-pro-phytochemical.pdf

Produce for Better Health Foundation. (n.d.). Phytochemical information center. Retrieved from http://pbhfoundation.org/about/res/pic/#

USDA Choose My Plate.Gov.(n.d.). Why it is important to eat vegetables. Retrieved from: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables-why.html


Susan Karpiel is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Studies at Texas Woman's University.


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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Job Possibilities for February 12, 2015

Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention Program Coordinator - Stephenville, TX

Responsible for developing and maintaining a comprehensive, holistic wellness program focusing on alcohol and other drugs and violence prevention education efforts. The coordinator will support student success by working closely with departments in the Division of Student Life as well as other relevant campus departments, students, faculty, staff and appropriate community agencies to develop and articulate a University vision and consistent messages regarding healthy student behaviors.


Health Coach - Wellness - Greater Dallas, TX

This exciting Aetna Wellness Health Coach position is a work-at-home/telework opportunity in the greater Dallas, TX OR Ann Arbor, MI OR Houston, TX area, but also includes up to 75% weekly local travel.

POSITION SUMMARY As a Wellness Health Coach, you will utilize a collaborative process of health and wellness education and delivery, in conjunction with the client's health and wellness staff, to plan and implement wellness events and programs to promote/influence members in decisions related to achieving and maintaining optimal health status. The goal of these programs/events is to help members achieve healthy lifestyle behaviors and align these lifestyle behaviors with individual wellness goals.


Health Coach (Diabetes CDE)- Dallas, TX - 1010107 

DESCRIPTION POSITION PURPOSE: Provide telephonic disease management services to individuals with diabetes. Services may include educating members, counseling and coordinating care. Act as the Health Coach for patients with diabetes Has discretion on clinical care plans but will have oversight by a Clinical Specialist Meet minimum standards for productivity and clinical results Provide assessments on new participants to determine clinical risk and readiness to change Maintain accurate and timely documentation in member management software of telephonic and written communications Act as case manager when integrating with other health care service vendors as specified by individual clients May make calls to newsletter participants/members as individual client needs dictate Complete required reports in a timely manner Enhance clinical and counseling knowledge by attending and actively participating in Company training sessions. Attend relevant professional seminars to maintain licensure/certification Comply with company policies and procedures including handling confidential forms and accreditation standard.


Program Specialist II - Arlington, TX

JOB DESCRIPTION: Under the direction of the Manager, Community Health Services, performs duties that support population-based regional issues, increasing local capacity to carry out public health essential functions and create or enhance the public health presence in counties with limited or non-existent public health resources. Coordinates and collaborates population-based activities with staff of other regional programs, Public relation skills are required in order to disseminate information regarding TDH, State and Federal standards, policies, and procedures, guidelines, health promotion, public health issues, disease prevention and population-based services in Health Service Region 2/3. Assist in responding to regional public health emergencies such as disease outbreaks, biological, environmental and weather. This may include but is not limited to prevention, surveillance and control. This position requires travel. Employee must provide transportation. If an employee operates a personal or state motor vehicle in performance of their official duties, the employee must possess a current valid Texas driver's license for the appropriate type vehicle.This position requires that an employee's driving record be verified with law enforcement to ensure compliance with TDSHS driving policy.


Health Educator-Intermediate - San Antoinio, TX

We are seeking qualified individuals to help develop and implement evidence-based substance abuse treatment within the context of a federally-funded treatment program for juvenile and criminal justice involved populations. This position offers the opportunity to work within a multidisciplinary team providing clinical care to community outpatients with a substance use disorder and other co-morbid conditions. Primary activities will involve screening adults for substance use problems, providing a brief intervention, and referral to treatment. Primary activities and decision making authority will be performed under the supervision of a licensed clinician. Bilingual educators and/or those experienced with the SBIRT model are preferred.


Wellness Communications Specialist (Contract) Austin, TX

The Wellness Communications Specialist is a member of the Wellness & Recognition team that works closely with the Communications team, and is committed to designing and writing informational and promotional pieces for Southwest Key’s Employee Wellness and Employee Recognition programs. This position reports directly to the Wellness & Recognition Program Administrator to maintain awareness of upcoming initiatives and anticipate corresponding communications needs so that they can notify the Communications Director in a timely and effective manner. The Wellness Communications Specialist is responsible for conceptualizing, writing and designing a myriad of internal campaigns meant to educate, inform and incentivize Southwest Key’s 2000+ employees to better health, wellbeing, and job satisfaction.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS: Works with the Southwest Key Employee Wellness & Recognition team to evaluate and anticipate the communications needs of the two programs. Forms creative strategies to solve for the communications needs of Southwest Key’s Employee Wellness and Employee Recognition programs. Conceptualizes, writes and designs collateral pieces such as posters, flyers, email blasts and more in order to achieve communications goals of Wellness & Recognition Programs. Collaborates with the Communications Director to keep the rest of the Communications team apprised of upcoming job requests from the Wellness and Recognition team. Works with the Communications Director and Graphic Designers to ensure that Southwest Key branding standards are upheld and that effective and realistic communications timelines and goals are set and maintained.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Guest Post: Women and Heart Disease by Monique Huntley


Heart disease is a condition that affects the normal functioning of the heart and or the structures of Heart disease includes conditions that affect your blood vessels, such as coronary heart disease; abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias); heart defects that you're born with; and issues with your heart valves and muscles. A heart attack is caused from narrowing or blockage of a blood vessel (cardiovascular disease) and heart disease is used synonymously with cardiovascular disease. As we recognize American Heart Month, remember to get your heart checked-out by your healthcare provider and remember the facts about heart disease.
the heart.


Heart Disease and Women

  • Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women.
  • Heart Disease kills approximately 1 woman every minute.
  • Approximately 43 million American women suffer from Heart Disease.
  • The signs and symptoms of Heart Disease differ among women and men.
  • Heart Disease is often misdiagnosed in women.
  • Hispanic women are more likely to develop Heart Disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women.
  • Heart Disease is the leading cause of death among African American women.


Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back is mostly noted by women than men. This may confuse many women because they expect the pain to be located in the chest and left arm.
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
  • Chest pain or discomfort. In women, the pain may be located in any area of the chest and not directly on the left side. 
  • Many women complain of stomach pain and they mistake this pain as Reflux. 
  • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder, dominantly occurs on the down the left arm. 
  • Shortness of breath. 
  • Some women complain of having a nervous cold sweat that resembles a stress-related sweat.


Prevention Strategies

  • Healthy diet: consume healthy fats, decrease saturated fats, drink alcohol in moderation, and eat well balanced foods from each food group.
  • Exercise routinely and regularly.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Refrain from smoking.
  • Get regular cardiovascular screenings from your doctor yearly.
  • Get help immediate if you suspect that you are having a heart attack.


References 

American Heart Association. About heart disease in women. Retrieved from https://www.goredforwomen.org/home/about-heart-disease-in-women/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Heart disease. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm

Rodriguez, F., & Foody, J. M. (2013). Is cardiovascular disease in young women overlooked? Women's Health, 9(3), 213-5. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/whe.13.18 

Monique C. Huntley, MSN, FNP-BC, is a doctoral student in Health Studies at Texas Woman's University. 
Graphics courtesy of the author.


On Campus Events
Go Red for Women: Heart Health Lunch and Learn
Go Red for Women: Wear Red (campus photo)

Interested in becoming a health educator? Check out our website and contact us to discuss which program might be the best for you.


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Guest Post: Defining the Two Most Common Thyroid Disorders by Julie Gardner

Thyroid disorders affect millions of Americans on an annual basis; however, many of those affected do not realize the cause of their symptoms or illness. The thyroid is an endocrine gland at the base of the neck that produces thyroid hormones; these hormones affect heart rate, metabolism, weight, body temperature, and keep vital organs such as the brain and heart functioning properly (American Thyroid Association [ATA], 2012a; National Cancer Institute [NCI], 2012). 

Two of the most common conditions associated with thyroid disorder are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. These disorders vary in symptoms and treatment; however, both can have detrimental effects on the body if left undiagnosed. 

Hyperthyroidism refers to the condition in which the thyroid produces too much hormone (ATA, 2012a). This overproduction, increases metabolism rates, thus causing nervousness, irritability, anxiety, weight loss, and muscle weakness (ATA, 2012a). Physicians can easily diagnose hyperthyroidism through an enlarged thyroid and rapid pulse; however, laboratory tests will need to be performed for further confirmation (ATA, 2012a). Treatment options for hyperthyroidism include anti-thyroid drugs, radioactive iodine, surgery to remove part of the thyroid, and beta-blockers. 

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is not producing enough hormones. This condition is often caused by autoimmune disease, surgical removal of the thyroid, radiation treatment, medicines, damage to the pituitary gland, or an inflammation of the thyroid. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include a decreased metabolism, weight gain, fatigue, depression, and constipation. 

Although there is no cure for hypothyroidism, patients can manage the disorder through the use of a thyroxine medication; this medication must be taken daily for life (ATA, 2012b). Hypothyroidism is often difficult to diagnose as there are no consistent symptoms and many of the symptoms may be similar to other diseases (ATA, 2012b). Although thyroid disorders can be considered severe in some cases, they can be managed through patient and physician communication. Furthermore, someone with thyroid disorder can continue to live an active lifestyle and is encouraged to do so through healthy eating, physical activity, and continued monitoring of their thyroid condition. Thyroid disorders can, and often are, hereditary so it is important for other family members to be screened so future complications can be prevented. 

References 
American Thyroid Association (2012a). Hyperthyroidism. Retrieved from http://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/Hyper_brochure.pdf 

American Thyroid Association (2012b). Hypothyroidism. Retrieved from http://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/Hypo_brochure.pdf 

National Cancer Institute (2012). What you need to know about thyroid cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/thyroid.pdf 

Julie Gardner, BS, MEd is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Health Studies at Texas Woman's University with an emphasis in population health. She received her Master of Education in Education Administration from Tarleton State University in 2000. Julie currently works as a Community Health Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in a partnership effort with Scott and White Health Plan serving Bell, Brazos, Llano, McLennan, and Williamson counties. Additionally, Julie suffers from hypothyroidism, but continues to lead an active lifestyle with her husband and two daughters. 

Interested in becoming a health educator? Check out our website and then contact us to discuss which program might be the best fit for you! 

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Guest Post: Healthy Resolutions and Goals by Kelsi Walker

January calendar with start in red
With the holidays behind us, it is officially resolution time. For many, January 1st was be the starting point of losing weight, eating healthier, drinking more water, making better grades, being on time, or spending more time with their loved ones. 

I remember January 1st, 2012; I had decided I would make some changes for the upcoming year. I wanted to lose 30 pounds, make straight A’s, get 8 hours of sleep, run 5 miles per day, drink 1 gallon of water per day, eat a well-balanced diet, visit 10 medical schools, travel the world, spend time with family more, get a great MCAT score, and the list goes on and on. Needless to say, I didn’t meet a single one of the goals by the end of the year. Why? I had too many broad resolutions without focus. 

To help you set and achieve your healthy resolutions for the upcoming year, I have come up with three successful tips that will help you stick to your resolutions. 

  1. Select SMART goals

    Making resolutions for the New Year is the easy part, but sticking to those resolutions often times ends in disappointment. This is where SMART goals come into play. SMART goals are detailed and aid in focusing on a goal. The SMART acronym is as follows:

    Specific - Who? What? When? Where? Why?
    Measurable - How much? How many?
    Attainable - Is it realistic? Is it challenging me?
    Results-oriented/Relevant - What are the results of the goal?
    Timely - What is the timeframe for meeting my goal? An example of a non-SMART goal is I will lose 30 lbs. This goal isn’t specific, and looked a lot like the goal I had written in 2012.


    An example of a SMART goal is I will lose 30 lbs. by August 30th by eating a well-balanced meal and running 4 miles per day. This SMART goal is very specific in measuring timely and attainable results. When drafting your SMART goal resolutions, remember to be personal. This tool is designed to help you come up with a clear path in reaching your individual goals. 


  2. Write it down

    Research shows that when you write your goals down, you are more likely to be successful in achieving those goals. Invest in a planner and/or a journal to help you see your goals on paper. You can also create a vision board containing your goals, pictures, and progress, and hang it in your bedroom. Writing down your goals will help keep you accountable. 

  3. Reward yourself

    Rewarding yourself for small victories can help you stay on track; however, when rewarding yourself, its very important to stay on track with your goal. For example, if your goal were to lose weight, eating a whole pizza as a reward wouldn’t be ideal. Treat yourself to a movie, a pedicure, or free live concert in your area. Celebrate the small victories and milestones by making healthy decisions. 

As you come up with your healthy resolutions for the upcoming year, remember that these goals are self-improvement lifestyle changes for a better you. As you tackle your goals (because I’m confident you will) don’t focus on how far you have to go, but on how far you’ve come. Have a wonderful 2015! 

References: New year, healthier you [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20452233,00.html 

Kelsi Walker is a graduate student at Texas Woman’s University and is currently pursuing a MS in Health Studies with an emphasis on population health. In 2012, she received a dual-degree in Medical Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies from the University of Oklahoma. Her interests are in minority disparities from preventable diseases. Kelsi’s ultimate goal is to matriculate into medical school in the near future. 

Interested in becoming a health educator? Check out our website and then contact us about which program might be the best fit for you!  

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Ideas for Creating Healthy Resolutions

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Guest Post: Men’s Health: A Case for Violence Prevention Programs for African American Youth by Byron Hunter

Byron Hunter PhD Student Department of Health Studies Texas Woman's University
Pictured: Bro. Byron Hunter, MPH, FACHE
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Matt Lauer and Al Roker grew beards in the month of November in solidarity and support of Men’s Health Month. While much of the focus was one the general population of men, special attention for young African American men should be of particular interest as much attention has been placed on the health and wellness of the population in light of recent events is Ferguson, MO. There are profound social issues for some members of the population and there is a great need for social programs for at-risk youth. 

African Americans represent 14% of the U.S. population (44,456,009) yet have the widest gaps in health care compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Individuals experience alarming rates of heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, STDs, and cancer.  Early health education and prevention activities among this population, particularly youth and young adults, is paramount to improve health and outcomes in later life.  Among the population, the health and wellness of young African American men is of particular concern. According to the US Census there are 7.4 million African American males between ages 10-34 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). 

Several Key public health issues among young African American men include HIV/AIDS, lack of health insurance, and violence (Battle, 2002). HIV/AIDS: African Americans continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV infection. In 1999, AIDS was the leading cause of death for African American males between the ages of 25 and 44 years (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999).  Ten years later, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among African Americans (68.9) was 7.9 times as high as the rate in whites (8.7) (Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 2014). Of all of the new HIV infections among African Americans, 51% were among men who have sex with men (MSM) (CDC, 2014).  Lack of health insurance: Nearly 4 out of 10 young African American men lack health insurance (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2006).  Violence: Among 10 to 24 year olds, homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans; the second leading cause of death for Hispanics; and the third leading cause of death American Indians and Alaska Natives. 

Of the aforementioned health issues violence among young African American men is of
Pictured: Bro. Garland Thompson, MCD
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
prominent concern. Inner city African American youth are at risk for interpersonal violence and aggression. Statistics reveal that homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans age 10 to 24 year olds (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2014). Additionally, among youth and young adults age 15 to 24 years killed by firearms in the US, 60 percent are African American or Hispanic (Teplin, McClelland, Abram, & Mileusnic, 2005). Many young African American men particularly those in urban settings live by the ‘Code of the Street’, in which they exert extra masculinity to intimidate peers to establish credibility (Stewart, Schreck, & Simons, 2006). Problems with violence are worsened by ill relationships between police and young African American men. Reports indicate that the likelihood of police contact (including stops) for African America men in urban settings is higher than in any other ethnic group (Meares, 2008). 


In addition to violence, there is a great need to educate youth and young adults about bullying. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines bullying as any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated (CDC, 2014). Up to 25% of U.S. students are bullied each year and as many as 160,000 students stay home from school on any given day because they are afraid of being bullied (Hardy, 2005). Boys are more likely to be involved in physical or verbal bullying, while girls are more likely to be involved in relational bullying (Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009). African-American adolescents are more likely to be involved in physical, verbal or cyber bullying but less victimization (Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009). Bullying can result in physical injury, social and emotional distress, and even death (CDC, 2014). Victimized youth are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment (CDC, 2014). 

In the U.S. homicide is the leading cause of death for young men age 10 to 24. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the firearm homicide rate among males ages 10 to 24 years was highest for Non-Hispanic Blacks with 48.4 deaths per 100,000 populations (CDC, 2013). In the state of Texas homicide rates have decreased from 16.7 per 100,000 population in 1994 to 6.5 per 100,000 population in 2010, yet for African-Americans males age 10 to 24 homicide continues to be the leading cause of death (30.2 per 100,000 compared to 6.9 per 100,000 population white males and 11.0 per 100,000 population Hispanic males) (CDC, 2013). Homicide rates are perpetuated by social-economic problems and ongoing programs are needed to address these issues to reduce homicides and other crimes. 

The literature suggests that the physical and social environment such as poverty, access to firearms and drugs, urbanization, disadvantaged neighborhoods, poor social support (parents, teachers, classmates, and close friends) and inadequate education and school systems plays a large role in determining and individuals potential for engagement in violence behavior (Reese, Vera, Thompson & Reyes, 2001; Li, Nussbaum, and Richards, 2007; McMahon, Coker & Parnes, 2013). Of these, poverty is of cited as the most significant factor of particular importance considering 20% of individuals living in poverty are under the age of 18 and African-Americans represent 26% of these individuals (Reese, Vera, Thompson and Reyes, 2001). Vowell and Mary (2000) suggest that many inner-city African American youth feel strained by society and are unable to achieve their fullest potential because of competitive disadvantages, economic resources and limited opportunities. As a result, they reject normative structures and may engage in risky behaviors including drugs, alcohol, or violent behavior. 

Reese, Vera, Thompson & Reyes (2001) suggest that most teen experiences are interrelated, for example, experimentation with drugs and alcohol are usually tied together, and therefore, programs should approach violence prevention strategies from a multifactorial viewpoint. The literature further suggests that programs examine emotional support, improve communication skills, coping skills, eliminate gang activity, and that bolster child and parent relationships simultaneously may be possible strategies to manage violence. 

Pictured: Bro. Adam Whitaker, M.Ed.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Violence continues to threaten the health and wellness of African American youth. The literature suggests environmental and social factors play a key role in predicting violent behavior. Members of the target population are often excluded from intervention development and there are significant gaps in participant involvement in strategy and design. It is important to involve individuals in planning interventions and to empower them to take control of their health. Informed violence prevention strategies may be accomplished through implementing techniques such as Community Based Participatory Research (CPBR) or peer education, which encourage discussion and active participant engagement. 

References

Battle, S. F. (2002). Health Concerns for African American Youth. Journal of Health & Social Policy, 15(2), 35-44. 

Center for Disease Control & Prevention (2014). HIV among youth. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/age/youth/index.html?s_cid=tw_std0141316 

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (2014). Youth Violence: facts at a glance. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/yv-datasheet-a.pdf 

Hardy, D (2005). In the mix: stop bullying take a stand. Public Broadcast Service. Retrieved from: http://www-tc.pbs.org/inthemix/educators/lessons/bullying_guide.pdf 

Li, S. T., Nussbaum, K. M., & Richards, M. H. (2007). Risk and protective factors for urban African-American youth. American Journal of Community Psychology, 39(1-2), 21-35. 

McMahon, S. D., Coker, C. and Parnes, A. L. (2013). Environmental stressors, social support, and internalizing symptoms among African American youth. Journal of Community Psychology, 41: 615–630. 

Meares, T. (2008). Legitimacy of police among young African-American men. The Marquette Law Review 92, 651. 

Reese, L. R. E., Vera, E. M., Thompson, K., & Reyes, R. (2001). A qualitative investigation of perceptions of violence risk factors in low-income African American children. Journal of clinical child psychology, 30(2), 161-171. 

Stewart, E. A., Schreck, C. J., & Simons, R. L. (2006). “I ain't gonna let no one disrespect me” does the code of the street deduce or increase violent victimization among African American adolescents?, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 43(4), 427-458. 

Teplin, L. A., McClelland, G. M., Abram, K. M., & Mileusnic, D. (2005). Early violent death among delinquent youth: a prospective longitudinal study. Pediatrics, 115(6), 1586-1593. 

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (2006). Young African American Men in the United States: race, ethnicity, & healthcare fact sheet. Retrieved from: http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/7541.pdf 

U.S. Census Bureau (2010). Age groups and sex. Retrieved from: http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_SF2_QTP1&prodType=table 

Vowell, P. R., & May, D. C. (2000). Another look at classic strain theory: Poverty status, perceived blocked opportunity, and gang membership as predictors of adolescent violent behavior. Sociological Inquiry, 70(1), 42-60. 

Wang, J., Iannotti, R. J., & Nansel, T. R. (2009). School bullying among adolescents in the United States: Physical, verbal, relational, and cyber. Journal of Adolescent Health, 45(4), 368-375. 

Byron Hunter, MPH, FACHE, is a PhD Student in the Department of Health Studies at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX. All correspondence should be sent to bhunter3@twu.edu. Pictured individuals are members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, which is the first Greek-lettered Fraternity for African American. The fraternity’s headquarters is in Baltimore, MD and the organizations aims are ‘Manly Deeds, Scholarship, and Love for all Mankind.’ The organization leads violence prevention and other training programs for inner-city youth and young adults. 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Guest Post: Holiday Stress by Luis Espinoza


Many of us are counting down the days till Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know I am.  The holiday season is supposed to be a wonderful time where we get to spend time with our family members and friends, but let’s be honest… it can be just as stressful.

Stress can be caused by having to make decision on what gifts to buy, dealing with particular family members or even resisting those holiday cravings.  All these occurrences can lead to a stressful holiday season.  Fortunately, you can stay mindful and happy during the holiday season by mastering the following tips:
1.    Don’t be afraid to partake in some indulgences such as pumpkin pie or that extra sitting of turkey.  The goal is to fill your plate with a large portion of healthy foods so you can still enjoy those not so healthy ones (Krippendorf, 2010).
2.   If you are traveling and are ill please bring extra supplies and medications just in case you experience travel delays (Nurmi, 2011).  As a general rule carry snacks and a blanket on your travels should you experience some type of delay (Steffes & Steffes, n.d.).
3.   Consider online shopping to reduce that stress that comes with last minute impulse buys and reduce the strain to your bank account (Palmer & Cooper, 2013).  Holidays are not about buying extravagant, expensive gifts.
4.   If you are hosting a meal during Thanksgiving or Christmas be prepared to have extra food should someone stop by unexpectedly (Krippendorf, 2010).  Word to the wise, go to the grocery store and buy more food than you will need at least 4 days before.
5.    We all have those family members we could go without seeing, however, don’t let them be the reason you dread the holidays (Nawijn, 2012).
6.   Exercise regularly to reduce holiday stress.  It is a way to let go of the bad and feel better afterwards (Adamson, 2009).  Exercise is vital to everyday health.

I hope you enjoy the holiday season and see the rainbow at the end of the season. It is after all about spending time with your loved ones and giving thanks for everything you have. 

References

Adamson, E. (2009). 365 ways to reduce stress: Everyday tips to help you relax, rejuvenate, and refresh. Adams Media.
Krippendorf, J. (2010). Holiday makers. Taylor & Francis.

Palmer, S., & Cooper, C. (2013). How to deal with stress (Vol. 24). Kogan Page Publishers.

Nurmi, N. (2011). Coping with coping strategies: How distributed teams and their members deal with the stress of distance, time zones and culture. Stress and Health, 27(2), 123-143.

Nawijn, J. (2012). Leisure travel and happiness: An empirical study into the effect of holiday trips on individuals’ subjective wellbeing. Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS).

Steffes, B. & Steffes, M. (n.d.). Your mission: Get ready! Get set! Go! [Brochure]. Retrieved from http://brucesteffes.net/uploads/3/3/6/1/3361888/traveling_with_children_-_steffes_-_your_mission_-_get_ready_get_set_go.pdf

Stress free holidays [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://thepeacefulmom.com/holidays/



Luis Espinoza is a Sociology doctoral student at Texas Woman's University (TWU) with areas of specialization in Social Stratification/Social Inequality and Health & Illness. His research interests include: Maternal and Child Health, Latino Disparities, Medically Underserved Populations, Health Education/Health Promotion, and Infectious & Chronic Diseases. If you are interested in getting in contact with him please contact him at Luis.Espinoza@twu.edu.



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