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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 05, 2009

This newsletter covers the following topics:

DeKalb County Steps…Gained Congressional Attention with School Wellness Improvements

DeKalb County Steps (*) in Georgia served as a successful example of CDC’s community health programs during a September 2008 visit by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s staff to CDC headquarters. During a site visit* by Harkin’s congressional aide to the DeKalb Steps program and its partner, the DeKalb County School System, achievements in promoting school health and wellness were highlighted. Staff members visited Avondale Middle School and Knollwood Elementary School to review their signature activities. Avondale Middle School implemented its own The Biggest Loser campaign, Catch a Teacher Being Healthy program, and student walking club. After visiting Avondale Middle School, the team stopped by Knollwood Elementary School to observe its Safe Routes to School program, which encourages students to bicycle and walk to school to help improve personal health and decrease traffic and congestion around schools.

A wellness policy that was established in 2006 for the entire school system, impacting approximately 112,000 students and staff, by DeKalb’s Board of Education with the assistance of DeKalb County Steps was also highlighted during the visit. Components of the school board’s wellness policy include mandated nutrition education for all students and an annual school health index, healthy eating, and tobacco-free lifestyle assessment in all schools. The school nutrition department follows USDA guidelines for school meals and has instituted fruit and vegetable bar programs in schools—many of which maintain an average daily sales of 150–300 servings. In addition, there are no vending machines for students in elementary schools, and many high and middle schools have opted for bottled water or fruit juice machines over soda machines.

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Salinas Steps and Philadelphia Steps…Assisted with Passage of Menu Labeling Laws

Salinas Steps* in California was instrumental in helping California become the first state in the nation to require nutritional menu labeling. Part of an effort to address the state's growing obesity epidemic, menu labeling provides information Californians can use for selecting healthier options when they eat out. Steps-supported policy, systems, and environmental changes at local taquerías (fast-food style Mexican restaurants) in Salinas served as a strong example in developing the September 2008 landmark legislation requiring some 17,000 California chain and fast-food restaurants to post calorie counts on menus and menu boards. Presentations and detailed information on the entire campaign implemented in Salinas taquerías, such as consumer outreach materials, table displays, photographs, and nutrition comparisons, are available* to communities interested in implementing similar improvements using healthier food substitutions and healthy menu item labeling.

Because of its strong partnership with the city’s Menu Labeling Coalition, Philadelphia Steps in Pennsylvania helped pass the city’s menu labeling bill in November 2008. Philadelphia’s menu labeling policy is the strongest in the country. Starting in January 2010, large chain restaurants with 15 or more outlets will provide calorie counts on their menu boards and detailed information on calorie, saturated and trans-fat, sodium, and carbohydrate content on printed menus. The coalition hopes to use this bill as a model for other cities and states, eventually leading to a national bill!

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Alabama River Region, Pinellas County, and Hillsborough County Steps…Encouraged Restaurants to Offer Healthier Menu Options

Alabama River Region Steps* has partnered with the Montgomery Area Community Wellness Coalition and the Alabama Department of Public Health to halt the growing rates of overweight and obesity in Alabama by promoting healthier food options in restaurants. About two-thirds of Alabama adults and one-third of Alabama children aged 1017 years are overweight or obese. In fact, Alabama has the seventh highest rate of overweight or obesity among children in the nation. This new health promotion program works with participating restaurants to provide healthier food choices such as reduced-calorie foods or those higher in nutritional value. Healthier food criteria include at least two of the following: smaller portion sizes, low-carbohydrate items, cooked-to-order items (e.g., grilled meat instead of fried), heart-healthy items, fruit salad or baked potato or rice instead of fries, and encouraging customers to eat half of the meal and package the rest to enjoy another time. To keep everyone on the healthy track, a nutritionist approves all menus.

Pinellas County Steps* has made an effort to tackle the obesity epidemic in its community by partnering with the Pinellas County Health Department to implement the Healthy Choices Restaurant Program. The program was implemented in 2003, encouraging restaurants to change their kids’ menus to offer at least 25% healthy options. Last year, the program added the promotion of healthy adult menu options. The program’s Web site,*, has a list of 248 participating restaurants and includes instructions for becoming a member. To qualify, restaurants must include two or more of the following on their menus: Heart Healthy options (low or reduced fat), Take Half Home suggestions, Cook-to-Order options (e.g., offering grilled instead of fried or no butter added), and vegetables, fruit, salad, or rice instead of French Fries. All menu options are approved by a nutritionist.

Hillsborough County Steps* collaborated with The Healthy Choices Restaurant Program in August 2008. The county promoted the efforts of this program by emphasizing several marketing strategies, including placing promotional items on billboards, airing spots at movie theatres, using Web sites and newsletters, and running TV and radio segments. This program provides education on overeating and healthier food options when dining out. To learn more about Hillsborough’s efforts, visit*

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Web Site Update…Resources for Addressing Health Disparities

Eliminating health disparities is an overarching goal of the Healthy People 2010 national public health agenda and is a top priority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC’s Healthy Communities Program supports eliminating socioeconomic and racial/ethnic health disparities as an integral part of its chronic disease prevention and health promotion efforts. For further information and resources about health disparities and related interventions for communities, visit

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New Resource Alert...MMWR Report on Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) in Selected Steps Communities

CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health and the Healthy Communities Program, Division of Adult and Community Health, recently reported results of surveys conducted in 2007 of high school students from 26 Steps communities (MMWR Surveillance Summary: Youth Risk Behavior SurveillanceSelected Steps Communities, United States, 2007). As a component of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Steps communities conducted school-based surveys of students in grades 9–12 in their program intervention areas. The communities used a modified core questionnaire that measured dietary behaviors, physical activity, tobacco use, and the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and asthma. Steps staff at the national, tribal, state, and local levels use YRBSS data for decision making, program planning, and enhancing technical assistance to increase physical activity and healthy eating and to reduce tobacco use and exposure.

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First Time Resource…Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans

The federal government recently issued its first-ever Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which describes the types and amounts of physical activity that offer substantial health benefits to Americans. A supplemental toolkit, available at the same link, provides resources that will complement what community organizations are doing now to encourage people to get the amount of physical activity they need. For additional resources, visit CDC’s Physical Activity Web site.

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Active Transportation for America Report…A Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy recently released Active Transportation for America,* which makes the case—by quantifying the national benefits for the first time—that increased federal funding in bicycling and walking infrastructure would provide tens of billions of dollars in benefits to all Americans. Putting figures to facts, the report documents the public health, transportation, energy, climate, and economic benefits of bicycling and walking and shows why making these modes of transportation a viable option for everyday travel will cost-effectively reduce oil dependence, climate pollution, and obesity rates while providing more and better choices for getting around town. The report also compiles success stories from communities across America to show the potential to realize these benefits.

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Upcoming Conferences of Interest…for Steps Grantees and Partners

  • May 7–9, 2009……New Orleans, Louisiana
    The Society of Public Health Education’s (SOPHE) 2009 Midyear Scientific Conference, "All That Jazz: Harmonizing Health Education Practice and Research to Advance Health Equity,"* sponsored by SOPHE.
  • June 1–2, 2009……Atlanta, Georgia
    Steps Communities' Peer-to-Peer Meeting for Program Managers, sponsored by CDC’s Healthy Communities Program.
  • June 10–12, 2009……Phoenix, Arizona
    National Conference on Tobacco or Health,* sponsored by CDC, National Cancer Institute, American Legacy Foundation, Arizona Department of Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and Danya International, Inc.


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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.

*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.

Page last reviewed: June 24, 2009
Page last modified: June 24, 2009
Content source: Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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