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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Healthy Communities Program
4770 Buford Highway, N.E., Mailstop K-93
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717

Telephone: (770) 488-6452
Fax: (770) 488-8488

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Posted March 13, 2007

Topics in this newsletter:

Dr. Alyssa Easton....... New Director of the Steps Program

Dr. Alyssa Easton, formerly the Acting Director of the Steps Program, accepted the position of Director, effective January 26, 2007. Below is a copy of the announcement made by Wayne H. Giles, MD, MS, Director of CDC's Division of Adult and Community Health:

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Dr. Alyssa Easton has accepted the position of Director of the Steps Program.

Alyssa received her PhD in health education from the University of Toledo in 1996 and an MPH in epidemiology from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 1997. She joined CDC in 1997 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer. Prior to joining the Steps Program in October 2004 as Deputy Director, she was an Epidemiologist and Team Lead of Surveillance and Specific Populations in the Office on Smoking and Health, Epidemiology Branch. As Team Lead of Surveillance and Specific Populations, she worked to advance science and public health practice as it related to tobacco use among specific populations. Priority activities included the development of adult tobacco surveys and sampling methodologies for American Indians and Alaska Natives. She was also a contributing author of the 2001 Surgeon General’s Report on Women and Smoking and the U.S. principal investigator for the 1999 Budapest Student Health Behavior Survey. In 2004, Alyssa received the CDC Honor Award for "Outstanding Performance in Contributions to Internal Minority Health Programs, Research and Surveillance” and for "Outstanding Performance in Silo Busters: Collaborative Success” in recognition of her work on smoking and specific populations.

She has a true passion for community-based work and a great vision for the Steps program. In addition, her training in health education and epidemiology provides her a unique understanding of the needs of communities and the importance of evidence-based interventions which will clearly serve the Steps program well.  Please join me in welcoming Alyssa to her new role within the Division.

2007 Steps Cooperative Agreement Program (CAP) Workshop and Action Institute.......
June 4–6, Seattle, Washington

Steps grantees and partners are invited to attend the 2007 Steps Cooperative Agreement Program (CAP) Workshop and Action Institute which will take place from June 4 through June 6 in Seattle, Washington. The 2007 Workshop and Institute will focus on training in the areas of "Environmental, Policy, & Systems Change" and "Sustainability" for the communities funded by the Steps Program. Additional details for the CAP Workshop/Action Institute will be posted on the Steps Web site over the next few weeks at . Online registration will also be available. Stay tuned!

There is a call for abstracts based on the two training areas noted above. Abstract Guidelines and Submission Instructions will be posted on the Steps Web site by April 2, 2007. The deadline for submission will be April 20, 2007. The format will include posters, as well as some formal presentations.

Please note that the 2007 CDC/DHPE National Conference on Health Promotion & Health Education and SOPHE’s 2007 Midyear Scientific Conference will also be held in Seattle for the 3 days (June 7–9) immediately following the Steps CAP Workshop/Action Institute.

2007 Steps Program At A Glance Report....... Now Available Online

Steps Program: Preventing Chronic Diseases Through Local Community Action, a 2007 At A Glance Report, is now available at the following link:

This 4-page report presents an overview of the Steps Program and highlights key principles & strategies, community interventions, and Program successes in creating and sustaining change in communities across the country.

Success Stories 2007....... A New Section on the Steps Web Site

A selection of one-page individual stories about Steps community successes in addressing obesity, diabetes, and asthma by encouraging people to be more physically active, eat a healthy diet, and stop using tobacco is now available on the Steps Web site. Also included is a two-page selection of success stories highlighting the types of promising and long-lasting changes that are occurring in Steps communities. See "Success Stories 2007" at

The first two rounds, consisting of 12 community success stories, have been posted on the Steps Web site. The success stories highlight effective interventions taking place in Steps-funded communities across the country. Stories will not only be posted on the Steps Web site but will also be used in a variety of CDC publications. Additional success stories will be posted as they are finalized. Visit the Steps Web site often to view this ongoing series of stories.

MMWR Data on Selected Steps Communities....... Just Published

"Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—Selected Steps Communities, 2005"
In Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Surveillance Summaries
Volume 56, No. SS-2
February 23, 2007 (PDF–574K)

The Steps Program is pleased to announce the release of the MMWR Surveillance Summary entitled “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—Selected Steps Communities, 2005.” This article highlights the priority health-risk behaviors and general health status among adolescents and young adults in 15 Steps communities across the country. The majority of communities represent small cities or rural areas, although four are located in urban areas. Each community used a modified version of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) core questionnaire that monitors physical activity, dietary behaviors, and tobacco use and the prevalence of overweight, diabetes, and asthma.

In general, the findings indicate that the youth risk behaviors found in Steps communities were comparable to national YRBSS data, which show that a substantial proportion of high school students engage in behaviors that place them at risk for chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and asthma. Two exceptions related to Steps included current cigarette use, which was reported by 17% of young people in Steps communities and 22% of those nationwide, and attending physical education classes daily, which was reported by 26% of young people in Steps communities and 33% of those nationwide.

Across Steps communities, youth risk behaviors and practices varied widely. For example, the percentage of students who

  • Attended physical education classes daily ranged from 5% to 46%.
  • Met currently recommended levels of physical activity ranged from 19% to 43%.
  • Reported lifetime cigarette use ranged from 39% to 65% and reported current cigarette use ranged from 9% to 26%.
  • Reported eating fruits and vegetables five or more times a day ranged from 15% to 20%.
  • Had an asthma episode or attack during the 12 months preceding the survey ranged from 28% to 52%.

Local-level data help to highlight these variations that reflect, in part, the difference in school environments, state and local laws, the demographic make-up of the population, and social and behavioral norms. YRBSS data are instrumental in responding to these varying public health issues and assessing behavior changes over time.

Steps Communities "In the News"....... New York State

On February 26, Steps to a HealthierNY published a four-page special report (as a pull-out insert) in New York’s Legislative Gazette entitled "Steps to a HealthierNY: The Healthy Communities Program Preventing Chronic Disease in New York State." The report highlights Steps to a HealthierNY's success in "implementing an innovative chronic disease prevention program that employs an integrated community-based approach to increasing physical activity, healthy eating and smoking cessation, thereby reducing the burden of diabetes, obesity, and asthma." A copy of the report is available at*

This publication, its purpose, and the thought process that went into developing it were the subject of the last "Communications, Policy, and Partnerships" call to Steps grantees on Wednesday, February 28. This call featured David Hoffman and Cindy Jaconski of the New York State Department of Health, both of whom spearheaded this publication. The Legislative Gazette, a weekly newspaper, is widely read by New York State policymakers.

Steps Communities "In the News"....... Alabama's River Region

Steps to a HealthierAL–River Region made national news in late February after they lined up Ruben Studdard, season-two "American Idol" champ, to speak to elementary and junior high school students in Montgomery. He told students about the importance of being physically active and eating healthy foods at a young age and continuing those positive behaviors throughout life. Steps to a HealthierAL–River Region is working directly with the Scale Back Alabama campaign to raise awareness about these issues.

According to MTV News Staff on After losing nearly 100 pounds, "American Idol" season-two champ Ruben Studdard is teaching kids in his home state of Alabama — which ranks near the top of the nation's obesity index — the importance of keeping fit. "I don't want y'all to get to college and stop working out and forget all the things you have to do to be healthy," Studdard, spokesman for the Scale Back Alabama weight-loss campaign, told students at Montgomery's Capitol Heights Junior High School. "I want y'all to continue working out for the rest of your life so you don't have to start all over like Ruben Studdard, trying to get yourself back into shape."

Screen capture of Web article and photo

Source: USA TODAY, "Celebrities Photo Gallery," 2/21/07: Season 2 Idol champ Ruben Studdard greets fans at Capitol Heights Junior High School in Montgomery, Alabama on Tuesday, February 20, 2007. Studdard spent the day promoting his favorite cause, inspiring his fellow Alabamians to shape up. –Rob Carr, Associated Press

Conferences of Interest........ For Steps Grantees and Partners

April 30–May 3, 2007.....Atlanta, Georgia
2007 CDC Diabetes Conference, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

June 4–6, 2007.....Seattle, Washington
2007 Steps Cooperative Agreement Program (CAP) Workshop and Action Institute, sponsored by CDC's Steps Program

June 7–9, 2007.....Seattle, Washington
2007 CDC/DHPE National Conference on Health Promotion & Health Education and SOPHE’s 2007 Midyear Scientific Conference, sponsored by the Directors of Health Promotion and Education (DHPE), the CDC, and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)*

June 24–26, 2007.....Atlanta, Georgia
2007 Joint Conference of the American Association of Health Education (AAHE) and the National Association of Health Education Centers (NAHEC) * (conference details not yet posted – see Web site for update)

June 24–27, 2007.....Toronto, Canada
International Conference on Physical Activity & Obesity in Children*

*Links to non-Federal organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. Links do not constitute an endorsement of any organization by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be  inferred. The CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at this link.

One or more documents on this Web page are available in Adobe Acrobat® Format (PDF). You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view PDF files on this page.

Page last reviewed: May 2, 2008
Page last modified: April 23, 2007
Content source: Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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