Bills aimed at better health

LIHUE — The American Heart Association applauds the passage of Act 138 and Act 153, signed into law by Gov. David Ige following the 2019 state legislative session.

The two laws will help to improve nutrition in Hawaii by reducing sugary beverage consumption in Hawaii children by making healthy beverages the default choice in restaurant “kids meals,” and by increasing availability of fruits and vegetables to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan (SNAP) recipients, allowing them to purchase twice as much locally-produced produce with their SNAP benefits through what are commonly called “double-up” programs.

“Sugary drinks are often automatically served with kids’ meals and unfortunately they contribute more added sugar to children’s diets than any other source,” said Kahealani Rivera, M.D., a cardiologist and president of the Association’s Hawaii Division. “Limiting sugary drinks can decrease the risk for unhealthy weight, diabetes and heart disease.”

Hawaii is the second state — California was the first — to pass the healthy “kids meals” beverage policy. The law will take effect on Jan. 1.

The law will require that restaurants serving “kids meals” offer healthy beverages as the default choice. The default options in kids’ meals would include:

• Water, sparkling water, or flavored water, with no added sugar, corn syrup, or other natural or artificial sweeteners

• Unflavored nonfat or low-fat (one per cent) dairy milk

• 100 percent fruit juice or vegetable juice, or fruit juice or vegetable juice combined with water or carbonated water, with no added natural or artificial sweetener.

Parents would continue to have the option to request other types of beverages.

Cadirao appointed director of state’s Executive Office on Aging

Ige has appointed Caroline Cadirao as the director of the State of Hawaii Executive Office on Aging. With nearly 20 years of program management experience with the Executive Office on Aging, Cadirao now leads the agency in charge of coordinating a statewide system of elder care and caregiver support services in Hawaii.

Cadirao brings to the position nearly 30 years of experience in the field of aging advocacy and programming. Most recently, Cadirao served as a program specialist in the Executive Office on Aging. In that role, she was responsible for the oversight of several programs and, most notably, she led the implementation of the Kupuna Caregivers Program, the first program of its kind in the nation that provides a small stipend to ease the financial burden on working Hawaii caregivers of a senior relative and to prevent or postpone costly institutional care.

In her new position, Cadirao oversees integral programs, such as Senior Medicare Patrol Hawaii, Hawaii State Health Insurance Assistance Program, Healthy Aging Partnership, and the Family Caregiver Support Program.

“Caroline’s extensive experience and commitment to implementing and improving programs for Hawaii’s kapuna and their caregivers are invaluable,” said Cathy Ross, deputy director, Hawaii Department of Health. “We are confident she will be able to build a strong, comprehensive system of support for Hawaii’s fast-growing senior population.”

Wear sunglasses to protect eyes

Hawaii is blessed with year-round beach weather, which is one of the many reasons most of us are happy to call this place home. However, the more time you spend outside in the sun, the more you’re exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light isn’t just damaging to the skin, but it’s also damaging to the eyes.

“Exposure to the sun is hazardous anytime during daylight hours even when it’s cloudy,” said Steven Rhee, medical director and cornea specialist at Hawaiian Eye Center.

UV damage to the eyes often goes unnoticed but accumulates over time. Exposure to UV light can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, skin cancer around the eyes, and pterygium — an unsightly, noncancerous growth on the eye’s surface.

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss for those 50 years of age and older, with an estimated 11 million Americans affected by the disease. In addition, over 24 million Americans 40 and over suffer from cataracts.

The best way to prevent eye damage from the sun is by wearing sunglasses. No matter the style or cost, choose sunglasses labeled “100% protection” or “UV 400.” Wrap-around sunglasses that extend around the temples and a hat add further protection from indirect sunlight.

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