For Immediate Release

News from Feb. 2012 Am Jrl of Public Health

AJPH News Release


EMBARGOED UNTIL Dec. 15, 2011, 4 PM (ET)


The articles below will be published online Dec. 15, 2011, 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 2012 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:

·         Calories displayed as physical activity equivalent leads to healthier choices  

·         Racial disparities found in depression detection and diagnosis among elderly

·         Use of reproductive health services down among minority, socioeconomically disadvantaged young women

Calories displayed as physical activity equivalent leads to healthier choices

The visible presence of caloric information on sugar-sweetened beverages may lead to better health choices among low-income black adolescents, finds a recent study from the American Journal of Public Health. This holds especially true when the information also shows how many minutes of exercise would be needed to burn off those calories.


Researchers examined the effect of providing caloric information about sugar-sweetened beverages on the number of resulting purchases of these products. They conducted their study at four corner stores located in low-income, predominantly black neighborhoods in Baltimore, Md. For the intervention, researchers randomly posted one of three signs with the following calorie information: (1) absolute caloric count; (2) percentage of total recommended daily intake; and (3) physical activity equivalent. They collected data for 1,600 beverage sales by black adolescents, between the ages of 12 and 18, including 400 for each of the caloric intervention groups and 400 baseline. Researchers discovered that when caloric information was provided as a physical activity equivalent, this intervention reduced the odds of the black adolescents purchasing a sugar-sweetened beverage. The researchers found that providing easily understandable calorie information — particularly in the form of physical activity — may be an effective strategy for lowering calorie intake from sugar-sweetened beverages among low-income black adolescents and encouraging increased water consumption.


“Because of the inclusion of mandatory calorie labeling in the recent health reform bill, it is also important to explore the most effective strategies for presenting caloric information to consumers on fast food restaurant menu boards,” suggest the study’s authors.

[From: “Reduction in Purchases of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among Low-Income, Black Adolescents After Exposure to Caloric Information.” Contact: Sara N. Bleich, PhD, Assistant Professor, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.]. 

Racial disparities found in depression detection and diagnosis among elderly

Racial and ethnic disparities in depression diagnosis and treatment exist among community-dwelling elderly in the United States, reports a nationally representative study published today in the American Journal of Public Health. 

Researchers analyzed Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey data for 2001 through 2005 for Medicare beneficiaries 65 years old and older. The sample study population comprised 12,353 unique persons contributing 33,708 person-years of observations during this interim. Depression diagnosis rates were 6.4 percent for non-Hispanic whites, 4.2 percent for African-Americans, 7.2 percent for Hispanics and 3.8 percent for others. Researchers discovered that African-Americans were significantly less likely to receive a depression diagnosis from a health care provider than were non-Hispanic whites. Furthermore, those diagnosed were likely to be treated for depression.

“Efforts are needed to reduce the burden of undetected and untreated depression and to identify the barriers that generate disparities in detection and treatment. Promising approaches include providing universal depression screening and ensuring access to care in low-income and minority neighborhoods,” said the study’s authors.

[From: "Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Depression Care in Community-Dwelling Elderly in the United States." Contact: Ayse Akincigil, School of Social Work, Rutgers, New Brunswick, N.J.]

Use of reproductive health services down among minority, socioeconomically disadvantaged young women
A new study from the American Journal of Public Health reports a decline in the use of reproductive health services among young women in the United States, particularly among minority, socioeconomically disadvantaged young women.

Using data on 4,421 U.S. women aged 15 to 24 years from the National Survey of Family Growth, researchers investigated determinants of and disparities in reproductive health service use. Predictors of service use included age, education, birthplace, insurance, religious participation, mother’s education, childhood family situation, age at menarche, sexual intercourse experience, recent number of partners and previous gynecological diagnosis. They found that more than half the sample (59 percent) had used services in the past year. However, service use decreased by 8 percent overall from 2002 to 2006-2008. Younger women and undereducated, underinsured and immigrant women had lower rates of service use between 2002 and 2006-2008 than older women and women of higher socioeconomic status.

“Our findings show that inequalities in reproductive health care for women in the United States exist, and they disproportionately affect young, minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged women.” The study’s authors conclude, “Public health and policy strategies are needed to eliminate inequities in reproductive health service.”

[From: “Determinants of and Disparities in Reproductive Health Service Use Among Adolescent and Young Adult Women in the United States.” Contact: Kelli Stidham Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J




The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association® (APHA), the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. 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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