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Food deserts may not be culprit in obesity epidemic

March 7, 2012
By Heather Gilligan It’s no secret that low-income people and minorities struggle more with obesity. But new research suggests that health advocates and policymakers may have fundamentally misunderstood the reasons why.

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Exercise can change your DNA

March 6, 2012
By Elise Craig It doesn’t take a genius to realize that exercise can reshape our bodies. But working out can also change our DNA, and researchers are slowly discovering how the change occurs. When people who don’t work out regularly get their bodies moving with acute exercise, the DNA in their muscle fibers is chemically modified, researchers are reporting in the March issue of Cell Metabolism.

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Healthcare reform helps Oakland clinic meet huge demand

March 5, 2012
Healthcare reform helps Oakland clinic meet huge demand When Sherry Hirota learned that healthcare reform meant community clinics like hers - Asian Health Services in Oakland's Chinatown - would be expected to double their capacity, she wasn’t surprised. And she wanted the clinic to serve as many patients as it could hold. There was just one problem – and it was a big one - the clinic was too small. Callie Shanafelt reports on how the clinic tacked the size problem, with some help from federal healthcare reform money.

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Language will be barrier to health coverage, study says

February 29, 2012
More than 100,000 Californians could miss out on the benefits of federal health reform because language barriers would keep them from buying insurance in a new online health insurance exchange, according to a new study by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. The study concludes that more than 1 million Californians with limited English skills will be newly eligible for tax credits to subsidize their coverage through the California Health Benefit Exchange, but fewer than half of those residents are expected to enroll, for various reason. If language were not a barrier, the study says, 110,000 more people would apply. To see the entire study, go here.

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Progress on teen pregnancy imperiled

February 27, 2012
By Heather Gilligan Teen pregnancy rates in the US have decreased dramatically in recent years, and California’s rates of teen births are as low as they’ve been in the last two decades. But the news about teen pregnancy isn’t uniformly good, advocates say. Latinas and African Americans have much higher teen birth rates than white teens in California, mirroring a national trend, and state budget cuts threaten the state’s prevention programs.

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Sodium seeps into American’s daily diet

February 27, 2012
Sodium seeps into American’s daily diet By Julissa McKinnon About 90 percent of Americans are overloading on sodium, but don’t blame your saltshaker.

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State prison population set to drop by one-fourth

February 23, 2012
California’s prisons will have 40,000 fewer inmates by 2017 and the state will be supervising 51,000 fewer parolees thanks to an historic shift of responsibility for low-level criminals from the state to county governments, according to a report released Thursday.

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Older Americans answer the call for the Peace Corps

February 22, 2012
By Jessica Chang While the average age of a Peace Corps volunteer is 28, 7 percent of them, like Maria Lee, are over 50. The minimum age requirement is 18 years old, but there is no upper age limit. The oldest serving volunteer today is 84.

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Did gas price spike cause the housing market collapse?

February 22, 2012
Given the recent spike in gas prices that is forecast to continue, a paper released today by the University of California Center for Energy and Environmental Economics is especially compelling. The paper presents an apparently new theory about what triggered the collapse of the housing market that then brought about the worldwide financial crisis in 2008. The alleged culprit: high gas prices. The authors have developed an economic model that shows the housing boom was driven largely by relatively low-income buyers purchasing homes far from where they worked. The gas price shock, they suggest, made those homes less valuable while also making it more difficult for potential new buyers to afford them, leading to a drop in housing prices and the start of an historic wave of foreclosures.

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Clearing the air

February 21, 2012
Children in communities south of San Diego near the port and the traffic-choked border suffer higher rates of asthma than kids in other parts of the county. Is diesel pollution to blame? Marty Graham reports from San Diego.

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