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In the first study of its kind, researchers have found that improved air quality in southern California had a direct effect on children’s respiratory health. The findings point to the effectiveness of smart public health policy — in other words, even as southern California experienced increases in traffic and commerce, aggressive air pollution policies resulted in cleaner air and healthier kids.

The public health literature is pretty clear when it comes to income status and poverty and their profound effects on health, disability, disease and life expectancy. But what about income inequality? Does a rising gap in wealth and resource distribution affect people’s health too?

While silicosis-related deaths have declined, it remains a serious occupational health risk and one that requires continued public health attention, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2010, New York City health officials launched a new food safety tactic that assigned restaurants an inspection-based letter grade and required that the grade be posted where passersby could easily see it. So, did this grading make a difference? A new study finds that it has, with the probability of restaurants scoring in the A-range up by 35 percent.

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine to protect against cancers caused by certain strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, public health advocates cheered its life-saving potential. Unfortunately, the new vaccine quickly became embroiled in a debate over whether immunizing young girls against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, would lead to risky sexual behavior.

It’s a persistent conundrum in the field of public health — how can we open people’s minds to positively receiving and acting on health information? Previous research has found that combining health tips with messages of self-affirmation may be a particularly effective strategy, but researchers weren’t entirely sure how self-affirmation worked at the neurological level. Now, a new study has found that self-affirmation’s effects on a particular region of the brain may be a major key to behavior change.

If national lawmakers took action on less than a dozen policy fronts, they could reduce child poverty in the U.S. by a whopping 60 percent. In sheer numbers, such a reduction would lift 6.6 million children out of poverty and significantly improve their opportunities for living long and fruitful lives.

It’s not unusual for studies on community walkability to face the perplexing question of self-selection. In other words, people who already like to walk end up moving to walkable communities and so those communities naturally have higher physical activity rates. In even simpler terms, it’s about the person, not the environment. However, a new study finds that walkable community design does influence healthy behavior — even among people with no preference for walking in the first place.

Rarely do poverty and optimal health go together. In fact, income is consistently tapped as a major factor underpinning a person’s opportunity to live a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, children don’t fare much better, with low-income children facing increased risks of poor health and development. So, just how many American children face this challenge today? Four out of every 10.

As more research is emerging on the potential health effects of fracking, a new study — perhaps the largest to date of its kind — has found that people living near natural gas wells may be at increased risk for adverse health impacts, including skin and respiratory conditions.