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For Immediate Release

News from the Oct. Sup. of the Am Jrl of Public Health

Environmental Justice and Disparities in Environmental Health

AJPH News Release

 

EMBARGOED UNTIL May 5, 2011, 4 PM (ET)

 

CONTACT:  For copies of articles or full table of contents of issue, call Patricia Warin, 202-777-2511, or e-mail patricia.warin@apha.org.

 

The articles below will be published online May 5, 2011, at 4 p.m. (ET) by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look” at http://www.ajph.org/first_look.shmtl, and they are currently scheduled to appear in the October Supplement 2011 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, www.apha.org, and is available at www.ajph.org.

 

American Journal of Public Health Highlights:

·         Walking and cycling have increased in the United States but remain at low levels:  Better infrastructure and targeted programs needed to encourage active travel

·         Workers at nail salons may be at higher risk of harmful exposure to toxins

·         Greater availability of fast food restaurants associated with higher calorie intake


Walking and cycling have increased in the United States but remain at low levels:  Better infrastructure and targeted programs needed to encourage active travel

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health reports a significant  increase  in walking between 2001 and 2009 in the United States, but only slight growth in cycling.

A team of researchers from Rutgers University, Virginia Tech and the University of Sydney assessed changes in walking and cycling in the United States between 2001 and 2009. They used the 2001 and 2009 National Household Travel Surveys to compute the frequency, duration and distance of walking and cycling per capita. They found that the average American made 17 more walk trips in 2009 than in 2001, covering 9 more miles per year, compared with just 2 more bike trips, and 5 more miles of cycling. They merged the population-weighted person and trip files to calculate prevalence of any walking and cycling and of walking and cycling at least 30 minutes per day. While the prevalence of "any walking" in the population remained unchanged, walking at least 30 minutes per day increased from 7.2 percent to 8.0 percent. The prevalence of “any cycling” in the population remained at 1.7 percent, and the prevalence of “30 minute cycling” remained at 0.9 percent. Changes in active travel between 2001 and 2009 were not equally distributed across population subgroups. Active travel declined for women, children and seniors, but increased among men, the middle aged, employed, well-educated and persons without a car. That suggests important problems of social inequities in active travel.


The analysis confirmed the important role of public transport in encouraging active travel. With 90 percent of all public transport trips involving walk trips at both ends, policy packages for encouraging active travel should include safe and convenient pedestrian access to public transport stops. Cycling also has the potential to be an important access mode to public transport.

The study's authors conclude, "In designing the right mix of policies, it is important to target women, children and seniors, who are the most vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists and require special attention to protect them from the dangers of motor vehicle traffic. Improved infrastructure for walking and cycling should be combined with educational and promotional programs to help encourage the necessary behavior change toward a more active lifestyle."


[From: "Walking and Cycling in the United States, 2001-2009: Evidence from the National Household Travel Surveys" Contact: John Pucher, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., Email: pucher@rutgers.edu; or JohnPucher@gmail.com].


Workers at nail salons may be at higher risk of harmful exposure to toxins

A new study from the American Journal of Public Health reports that workers at nail salons may be at higher risk of exposure to chemical toxins that may be harmful to their health.

Researchers set out to measure personal and area concentrations of solvents among Vietnamese women working in various California nail salons through a community-based participatory research study. Researchers collected data from 80 Vietnamese female nail salon workers from 20 different nail salons. They measured work-shift concentrations of toluene, ethyl acetate and isopropyl acetate and found that measured levels of these solvents were higher than recommended guidelines to prevent frequently reported health symptoms frequently reported. One-third of workers reported that they experienced certain health symptoms such as irritations, headaches, nausea and breathing problems after entering the workforce. Irritations of the nose, throat, lungs, skin and eyes were the most common symptoms, reported by 26.5 percent of workers.

“Our findings underscored the need for more attention to preventive public health strategies for his workforce. Recommendations to promote worker health and safety include policy changes to update occupational exposure limits that take into account various chronic health conditions, better regulatory oversight of chemicals in cosmetic products, and more research focused on the health of understudied and vulnerable worker populations,” said the study’s authors.

[From: “Characterizing Workplace Exposures in Vietnamese Women Working in California Nail Salons.” Contact: Thu Quach, PhD, MPH, University of California at Los Angeles, thu.quach@cpic.org].           

        

Greater availability of fast food restaurants associated with higher calorie intake

The increased availability of fast food restaurants is associated with a higher intake of calories among African Americans in the Southeast reports a new study released today in the American Journal of Public Health. 

 

Researchers examined the associations between fast food restaurant availability with dietary intake and weight among African Americans in the southeastern United States. The sample population included 4,740 African American Jackson Heart study participants. While no consistent associations between fast food restaurant availability and body mass index or waist circumference were observed, researchers did report that greater fast food restaurant availability was associated with higher energy intake among men and women younger than 55 years, even after adjusting for individual socioeconomic status. They found that the energy intake increased by 138 kilocalories for men and 58 kilocalories for women when fast food restaurants were within a five mile radius.  

 

The study’s authors said, “Our results suggested that, especially among younger adults who are more likely to consume fast food, the availability of fast food restaurants around their homes is associated with energy intake. Given the importance of energy intake to weight and associated disorders, the role of environmental factors such as fast food restaurant availability deserves additional scrutiny in studies involving more appropriate longitudinal designs.”

[From: “Associations of Fast Food Restaurant Availability with Dietary Intake and Weight among African Americans in the Jackson Heart Study, 2000-2004.” Contact: Demarc A. Hickson, Jackson State University, Jackson, Miss., demarc.a.hickson@jsums.edu].   

 

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