Newswise — The articles below will be published online November 4, 2009, at 4 p.m. (ET) by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look” at, and they are currently scheduled to appear in the November 2009 Supplement 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,, and is available at

(1) Walking groups, improved safety lead to increased physical activity

A new study shows that simple interventions such as forming walking groups and improving walking routes can lead to increased walking and physical activity.

Researchers implemented and evaluated multiple interventions to increase walking activity in Seattle at a multicultural public housing site. Interventions included sponsoring walking groups, improving walking routes, providing information about walking options and advocating for pedestrian safety. After the interventions, self-reported walking activity increased among walking group participants from 65 to 108 minutes per day.

“The built environment influences opportunities for physical activity through access to trails, parks, recreation centers and walkable streets,” researchers commented. “As does the social environment, such as having opportunities to walk with others.” Therefore, more thought should be put into community design, as well as interventions to change behavioral habits and increase walking.

[From: “High Point Walking for Health: Creating Built and Social Environments That Support Walking in a Public Housing Community.” ].

(2) Catching enough Zzz’s leads to healthier food choices

Adequate sleep is associated with more healthful food choices and may mediate the effects of workplace experiences, according to a new study.

Using a sample of 542 males, this study examined whether adequate sleep is linked to more healthful eating behaviors among motor freight workers and whether it mediates the effects of workplace experience. Motor freight workers often work long hours and have irregular shifts. The average age of participants was 49 years and 83 percent were white.

Work experiences were separately related to healthful food choices and sleep adequacy. In a model combining work, diet, and sleep variables, work experiences were not found to be significant predictors of healthful food choices, adequate sleep was found to be a significant predictor, suggesting that sleep adequacy mediates the effects of the workplace on healthful food choices.

The study’s authors stated, “Sleep duration and sleep quantity are contributing factors to increasing chronic disease trends, in that insufficient sleep duration and sleep disruption have been linked to weight gain, diabetes, and early mortality in the long term. Our findings suggest that sleep adequacy, by enhancing helpful dietary choices, is one means by which workplace factors may influence chronic disease risk.”

[From: “Association of Sleep Adequacy with More Healthful Food Choices and Positive Workplace Experiences Among Motor Freight Workers.” ].

(3) Preventative interventions help to reduce pesticide exposures to farmworkers

Agricultural pesticide exposure among farmworkers is a long-standing occupational health and environmental justice concern. Taking certain preventive measures can reduce risks, a new study found.

Researchers evaluated a community-based participatory research worksite intervention intended to improve farmworkers’ behaviors at work and after work to reduce occupational and take-home pesticide exposures. One hundered thirty farmworkers employed at two Monterey County, Calif., strawberry farms were included in this study in 2003. Researchers found that glove use, wearing clean work clothes and hand washing at the midday break and before going home all improved significantly.

“Our results indicated that this intervention was effective in promoting several behaviors that may reduce occupational and take-home pesticide exposures. Community-based participatory research, with its focus on engaging critical stakeholders and translating research into action, is a promising orientation through which to address this important environmental justice issue.”

[From: “A Community-Based Participatory Worksite Intervention to Reduce Pesticide Exposures to Farm workers and Their Families.” ].

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American Journal of Public Health (Nov-2009)