HEALTH

HHS seeks to reduce health disparities

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday launched two plans aimed at reducing health disparities.

“For the first time, the United States has a coordinated road map designed to give everyone the chance to live a healthy life,” stated HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We all need to work together to combat this persistent problem so that we can build healthier communities and a stronger nation.”

The "HHS Action Plan to Reduce Health Disparities" outlines goals and actions HHS will take to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities.

HHS also released the "National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity," a common set of goals and objectives for public and private-sector initiatives and partnerships to help racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved groups “reach their full health potential.” The strategy is a product of the National Partnership and was coordinated by the HHS Office of Minority Health.

Racial and ethnic minorities still lag behind in many health outcome measures. They are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy, are more likely to suffer from such serious illnesses as diabetes or heart disease, and when they do get sick, are less likely to have access to quality health care, HHS stated.

Goals of the "HHS Action Plan" include transforming health care and expanding access, building on the provisions of the Affordable Care Act related to expanded insurance coverage and increased access to care. The plan also calls for more opportunities to increase the number of students from populations underrepresented in the health professions, train more people in medical interpretation to help serve patients with a limited command of English, and train community workers to help people navigate the system.

The plan also calls for HHS to set data standards and upgrade collection and analysis of data on race, ethnicity, primary language and other demographic categories in line with new provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Local groups can use the National Stakeholder Strategy to identify which goals are most important for their communities and adopt the most effective strategies and action steps to help reach them. Both plans call for federal agencies and their partners to work together on social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to health disparities.

The HHS Office of Minority Health also is launching new Web pages to provide information and tools for organizations and individuals working to reduce healthcare disparities.

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Iron Girl, a women’s energy bar, makes debut

BY Allison Cerra

TAMPA, Fla. — Nestle Performance Nutrition and its PowerBar brand have teamed up to introduce a new energy bar for women.

Iron Girl is a co-branded women’s energy bar that was produced by PowerBar and Iron Girl, an athletic event series consisting of 13 races nationwide, ranging from 10K/5K to half-marathon, duathlon and triathlon. Iron Girl is part of World Triathlon, producers of the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

"We are excited to announce the launch of the new Iron Girl energy bar, as an extension to our long-standing partnership with [World Triathlon Corporation]," said Neel Premkumar, brand development manager for PowerBar. "This product supports the active lifestyle of adult women, whether training for an event or getting through a busy daily routine."

Iron Girl energy bars are sold at Target and are available in two flavors: Strawberry and Cranberry, and Cocoa Crunch. Single bars retail for 99 cents each and $4.99 for a multipack (six bars).

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U by Kotex nixes bland look

BY Allison Cerra

DALLAS — Kotex’s U by Kotex line is getting stylish.

The feminine care line has ditched the bland look of typical pads and liners by now boasting color and design, adding style to its products for the first time. Three unique designs will be available in each box.

To celebrate U by Kotex’s bold new look, the brand has teamed up with fashion designer Patricia Field, known for her work on "Sex and the City," "Ugly Betty" and "The Devil Wears Prada," to launch an online design contest. Fans can enter a pad, accessory or inspiration board design at BantheBland.com, for the chance to work with Field to design a new U by Kotex product and to attend a runway show at Fashion Week in New York.

"At this point in my career, I am thrilled to have the chance to speak with young women and bring design to the bland feminine care category through this partnership with U by Kotex," Field said. "I’m looking forward to seeing the creativity come to life in the design contest and final products."

U by Kotex products are available at retailers nationwide.

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