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For Immediate Release
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News from the February American Journal of Public Health

EMBARGOED UNTIL December 17, 2009, 4 PM (ET)


CONTACT:  For copies of articles or full table of contents of issue, call APHA Communications at 202-777-2511 or email us.


The articles below will be published online December 17, 2009, at 4 p.m. (ET) by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look,” and they are currently scheduled to appear in the February 2010 print issue of the Journal. “First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. The American Journal of Public Health is published by the American Public Health Association.


American Journal of Public Health Highlights:

·         Having a Snack Attack: U.S. Obesity Epidemic Related to its Easy Accessibility in Retail Stores

·         Arab-Americans Experienced Adverse Health Effects in the Sept. 11, 2001, Aftermath

·         Multiple Deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan Adversely Affect Mental Health of U.S. Soldiers

Having a Snack Attack: U.S. Obesity Epidemic Related to its Easy Accessibility in Retail Stores

A new study shows that candy, salty snacks and sweetened beverages, which have been implicated as contributing to the obesity epidemic, are widely available in retail stores whose primary merchandise is not food.

Researchers assessed the availability and accessibility of such energy-dense snacks in retail stores whose primary merchandise was not food and whether these snacks varied by store type, region and socioeconomic factors.

They found that snack food was available in 41 percent of the stores — the most common forms being candy (33 percent), followed by sweetened beverages (20 percent) and salty snacks (17 percent). Furthermore, these savory treats are commonly within just an arm’s reach of the checkout line. Researchers found snack foods in 96 percent of pharmacies, 94 percent of gasoline stations, 22 percent of furniture stores, 16 percent of apparel stores and 29-65 percent of other stores. Researchers found some variation in availability by region, but not by racial or socioeconomic characteristics of nearby census tracts.

Researchers suggest, “The obesity epidemic in the United States is estimated to be responsible for more than 100,000 deaths per year, 20 times the estimated 5,000 deaths from food-borne infectious pathogens. …This epidemic should prompt public health experts to evaluate the contribution of the widespread availability of energy-dense snack foods and beverages to weight gain and to consider ways to address this availability.”

[From: “The Ubiquity of Energy-Dense Snack Foods: A National Multicity Study.” Contact: Lauren Futrell,
Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine].     

Arab Americans Experienced Adverse Health Effects in the Sept. 11, 2001, Aftermath

Researchers discovered adverse health effects of perceived post-Sept. 11 abuse and discrimination, including increased psychological distress, lower levels of happiness and poorer perceptions of health status, in the greater Detroit Arab community.

The new study assessed the prevalence of perceived abuse and discrimination among Arab American adults after Sept. 11, 2001, and associations between abuse or discrimination and psychological distress, level of happiness and health status. Researchers obtained their data through a face-to-face survey administered in 2003 to a representative, population-based sample of Arab American adults residing in the greater Detroit area. They found that 25 percent of the respondents reported post-Sept. 11 personal and familial abuse, and 15 percent reported that they personally had a bad experience related to their ethnicity, with higher rates among Muslims than Christians.

“Perceived discrimination and discrimination may influence people’s overall health by causing negative emotional states that subsequently lead to mental health conditions such as depression and stress disorder.”


Furthermore, the study’s authors suggest, “The Arab community in the United States represents an ideal population with which to partner in an effort to better understand the pathways by which racial/ethnic and religious discrimination may lead to adverse health behaviors and outcomes.”

[From: “The Association of Perceived Abuse and Discrimination After September 11, 2001, With Psychological Distress, Level of Happiness, and Health Status Among Arab Americans.” Contact: Aasim I. Padela, MD, MS, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Ann Arbor, Mich.].    


Multiple Deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan Adversely Affect Mental Health of U.S. Soldiers

A new study reports that repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan may adversely affect the mental health of these deployed soldiers.

Researchers assessed the effects of prior military service in Iraq or Afghanistan on the health of New Jersey Army National Guard members preparing for deployment to Iraq. They analyzed anonymous, self-administered pre-deployment surveys from 2,543 National Guard members deployed to Iraq in 2008, measuring for effects on mental or physical health. They found that previously deployed soldiers were more than three times as likely as soldiers with no previous deployments to screen positive for posttraumatic stress disorder and major depression, more than twice as likely to report chronic pain, and more than 90 percent more likely to score below the general population norm on physical functioning.

Researchers said, “Our findings suggest that repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan adversely affect the physical and mental functioning of New Jersey National Guard troops. … It is important, therefore, for military and veteran authorities to develop mechanisms for the truly confidential and accessible assessment and treatment of mental and behavioral health problems.”

[From: “Effects of Repeated Deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan on the Health of New Jersey Army National Guard Troops: Implications for Military Readiness.” Contact: Anna Kline, PhD, Department of Veteran Affairs, New Jersey Health Care System, Lyons, N.J.].  

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The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association. APHA is a leading publisher of books and periodicals promoting sound scientific standards, action programs and public policy to enhance health.   

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