Finding the Health Advocate In All Of Us, Part II: Topics and Current Issues

By Julie A. Rawlings
Guest Writer,
Click here to read “Finding the Health Advocate In All Of Us, Part I.”

PROVIDENCE, RI – What can you do to become an effective health advocate? How can you help create and sustain policies that promote health? Listed below are topics and key words to observe and track in your neighborhood and in upcoming legislation. They come from work being done and bills being monitored by the Rhode Island Department of Health, health advocates, and community stakeholders.


The percentage of RI children who are overweight or obese is 26%

In the last 30 years there has been an increase of 400% in fast food consumption and a 150% increase in soft drink consumption

Taste preferences are developed before kindergarten

Nearly 75% of children ages 2 – 6 years are in some form of childcare

Children typically eat breakfast, lunch and two snacks while at daycare

Unhealthy foods away from home undermine the attempts of parents to feed their children healthy foods

We need to improve the standards of childcare nutrition because it is important to set a good example and teach children good lifelong eating habits

We need to have healthy foods available in our communities

Eating a healthy diet will reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke

Children must be physically active every day for at least one hour

We need to encourage our legislators to collaborate with the Dept of Education and the Dept of Agriculture to develop a farm to school program

Our legislators need to support comprehensive community and childcare level campaigns to promote healthy behaviors


Sugar Sweetened Beverages, or SSBs, are the only food or beverage that has been shown to increase the risk of overweight and obesity

Americans consume about 250 to 300 more calories daily today than several decades ago. Half this increase is from SSBs

If the average American drank one less SSB per week, they would save about 7000 calories, or two pounds a year

SSB consumption is highest among the groups that are at highest risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes

African Americans are consistently exposed to more food and beverage promotion than Whites

33 states have sales tax on soft drinks, but the taxes are too small to affect consumption

Lower income populations are more sensitive to price increases and may reduce consumption as a result of price

RI can impose a tax on the manufacturer and/or distributor, which is called an excise tax. The cost increase from these taxes is reflected in the posted price of the product

Many states have excise tax on bottles, syrups and powders, some of which are earmarked for health programs

A 2 cent per 12 oz container excise tax would generate approximately $75,000,000 annually for RI. That revenue should go towards sustainable health initiatives


Using an Electronic Medical Record, or EMR, improves care coordination to allow the exchange of important clinical information through a health information exchange system

Electronic Prescriptions, or E-scripts, are safer for patients, mean fewer medication errors, are easier to access for patients, offer ease of use for providers and decrease pharmacy costs

39% of physicians use electronic medical records

Of those physicians using EMRs, they e-prescribe 60% of the time

RI is the 1st state to have 100% of its retail pharmacies capable of receiving electronic prescriptions.

63% of prescribers in RI are e-prescribing. The goal is 67%


After just one drink your chances of a car or motorcycle accident multiply by 7

The average Blood Alcohol Count of a drunk driver is .17%. The legal limit is .08%

The majority of drivers charged with DUI’s are 1st time offenders

A driver charged with a DUI who refuses a breathalyzer will lose their RI driver’s license on a hard suspension, for one month to two years

Watch for drinkers disguising alcohol in innocent containers

Set a drinking limit and know your limits

Do not drink while taking over the counter or prescribed medications

Do not glamorize drinking by posting party pictures on Facebook and other social networking sites


About 1 in every 5 adults in RI, or 160,000 persons is a current cigarette smoker

In RI, Whites smoke at a rate of 21.8%, African Americans at a rate of 23.3%

In RI, 19% of current smokers are female and 20% are male

32% of adults who live below the poverty level smoke and 20% who live at or above the poverty level smoke

Smoking rates for men have decreased dramatically in the last 60 years, while women have remained stagnant

Of those kids under 18 and living in RI, 23,000 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking

Smokers have higher rates of poor quality of life and poor mental health than non-smokers

Look at ways to ban tobacco promotions, i.e. buy one get one free

Take tobacco sales/license violations more seriously

Create revenue for vendor training and improved enforcement


Julie A. Rawlings is a Minority Outreach Specialist with Lifespan, a not-for-profit organization that manages RI Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Miriam Hospital, Bradley Hospital, and Newport Hospital. She also facilitates the Rhode Island Free Women’s Cancer Screening Program with Lifespan Hospitals, helping to provide clinical breast exams, pelvic exams, Pap smears and mammograms for women who are eligible. Rawlings also serves as Co-Chair of the RI Department of Health’s Minority Health Advisory Committee. Her views below are her own, and do not reflect/represent the views of Lifespan or the Minority Health Advisory Committee. For more information about becoming a Lifespan Community Health Advocate, or to reach her directly, email


Urban Health Watch ( is a blog managed by the Urban League of Rhode Island and edited by Reza Corinne Clifton, an award-winning multimedia journalist. It is funded by the Rhode Island Prevention Block Grant, a program of the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


One response to “Finding the Health Advocate In All Of Us, Part II: Topics and Current Issues

  1. Pingback: Finding the Health Advocate In All Of Us, Part I « Urban Health Watch

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