American Journal of Public Health Highlights:
- Motorcycle helmet laws save lives: Case study in Pennsylvania
- Anti-smoking advertising and raising cigarette prices reduces smoking prevalence
- Purchasing behavior influenced by calorie information: It worked for Jared!
- Foreign-born women more likely to be victims of intimate partner homicide in the United States
Motorcycle helmet laws save lives: Case study in Pennsylvania
After the 2003 repeal of Pennsylvania’s motorcycle helmet law, helmet use by riders involved in reportable crashes decreased from 82 percent in 2001–2002 to 58 percent after the repeal (2004–2005). Motorcycle-related head injury deaths increased 66 percent, whereas non-head injury deaths increased 25 percent. In addition, motorcycle head injury hospitalizations increased 78 percent compared with 28 percent for non-head injury hospitalizations. These data were obtained from Pennsylvania’s Departments of Health and Transportation. Researchers suggest that the repeal was most likely responsible for the relatively large increase in head injuries and that this study is significant for two main reasons. First, it used population-based hospital discharge data compiled from all acute care hospitals in the state, whereas the majority of previous studies of post-repeal changes in motorcycle-related hospitalizations include data only from selected trauma centers. Second, the researchers attempted to control for non-helmet factors by comparing changes in head injuries to non-head injuries.
“Data alone, however, are not sufficient to reverse helmet law repeal; many states maintain repeals despite multiple studies showing increases in deaths, injuries and costs. Until life-saving mandatory helmet policies are reinstated, voluntary helmet use programs should be developed and evaluated,” the study’s authors recommended. [From: “Changes in Motorcycle-Related Head Injury Deaths, Hospitalizations, and Hospital Charges Following Repeal of Pennsylvania’s Mandatory Motorcycle Helmet Law,” Contact: Clare Collins, Media Contact, email@example.com]
Broadcasting mass media campaigns and raising cigarette prices reduces smoking prevalence
Researchers used monthly survey data (1995–2006) from the five largest Australian capital cities to assess the impact of several tobacco control policies and televised anti-smoking advertising on adult smoking prevalence. Increasing cigarette costliness and greater exposure to anti-tobacco mass media campaigns were found to significantly reduce smoking prevalence. However, monthly sales of nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) and bupropion, exposure to NRT advertising and smoke-free restaurant laws had no detectable impact on smoking prevalence at the population level.
“The public health gains from reducing tobacco use are huge and incontrovertible, yet governments rarely scale their responses appropriately or consider expenditure on tobacco control as an ongoing and essential service, as they would with primary health care, intensive care and ambulance services,” the study’s authors said. [From: “Impact of Tobacco Control Policies and Mass Media Campaigns on Monthly Adult Smoking Prevalence,” Contact: Melanie A. Wakefield, PhD, The Cancer Council Victoria, Victoria, Australia, Melanie.firstname.lastname@example.org].
Purchasing behavior influenced by calorie information: It worked for Jared!
Researchers examined the effect that displaying calorie information at fast-food chains has on its customers. A total of 7,318 customers were surveyed from 275 randomly selected restaurants of 11 fast food chains within New York City. The results found that patrons purchased an average of 827 calories. Only 4 percent of patrons reported even seeing calorie information provided at the site, with the exception of Subway. Unlike other chains, Subway placed calorie information on deli cases near the register and over one-third of Subway patrons reported that the placement of calorie information by the deli cases near the register influenced their purchase. Those Subway patrons who reported seeing calorie information purchased an average of 52 fewer calories than those who did not.
“Fast food, which represents approximately 74 percent of all restaurant traffic nationally, typically contains more calories per serving than does food prepared at home . . . Placement of calorie information at point of purchase is more effective and may be associated with lower calorie purchases among consumer who report seeing information,” the study’s authors stated. [From: “Purchasing Behavior and Calorie Information at Fast Food Chains in New York City, 2007,” Contact: Mary T. Bassett, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, New York, N.Y., email@example.com].
Foreign-born women more likely to be victims of intimate partner homicide in New York City
Women killed by intimate partners, termed “intimate partner femicide” or “IPF,” account for approximately one-third of reported female homicides in the United States. Using medical examiner data on 1,861 femicide victims between 1990 and 1999 and archival information on 59 neighborhoods in New York City, this study examines the role that the neighborhood environment, described by educational and occupational attainment, immigrant concentration, physical disorder and social cohesion, has in shaping the IPF risk. Controlling for neighborhood-level income, researchers found that no neighborhood factors were strongly correlated with IPF risk, as compared with non-intimate partner femicide. The strongest predictors of IPF shown were foreign country of birth and young age.
“Our results confirm the vulnerability of foreign-born women to IPF and highlight the need for interventions to reduce the occurrence of IPF in this group,” the study’s authors said. [From: “Risk of Intimate Partner Femicide in a Large Urban Area: Role of Neighborhood Environment,” Contact: Victoria Frye, DrPH, Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York, N.Y., firstname.lastname@example.org].