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Appalachian Health Summit focuses on obesity epidemic

Apr. 22, 2011 @ 07:02 AM

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Six hundred attendees representing 18 universities, nine county health departments, wellness organizations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention converged on Lexington, Ky., Thursday for the inaugural Appalachian Health Summit.

The summit, part of the University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science's sixth annual spring conference, was a joint project of U.K., Marshall University, Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati and Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Focused on the central issue of obesity, participating universities presented research projects and offered experts for breakout sessions that included a mix of disciplines, perspectives and methodologies around topics key to fostering health and wellness.

"This summit is geared toward addressing the critical issue of obesity in the underserved area of Appalachia," said Dr. William H. Dietz, director, division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity at the CDC.

In his keynote address, Dietz said he believes the obesity epidemic is situated where the perception of tobacco use and effect was in the 1950s and 1960s.

"We're at the corner where tobacco was, where the perception was that tobacco had adverse effects on your health, and I think the public is starting to gain awareness of obesity as an adverse agent on health," he said. "But, we've not turned that corner yet."

Before and after the keynote address, small group sessions focused on socioeconomic status and its impact on health in Appalachia, the farm-to-school movement in rural Appalachia and childhood obesity, food and nutrition.

Marshall University was well-represented at Thursday's conference, with faculty presenting on topics ranging from introduction of the university's nutrition education program, diabetes community collaboratives and good fats, bad fats and breast cancer.

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