How can we, as a society, come together to tackle the growing health epidemic of childhood obesity, both through education and changes in policy?
ABBOTT PARK, Illinois How can we, as a society, come together to tackle the growing health epidemic of childhood obesity, both through education and changes in policy? This is the key question that a group of students, teachers, physicians and other experts are trying to answer this week as they come together for the Second Annual Keystone Center Youth Policy Summit in Keystone, Colo. Abbott is joining forces with several nonprofit organizations and corporations to both sponsor the event and actively participate to help find solutions to this looming health crisis.
"It is imperative that Abbott works together with other organizations to find effective ways to reach children about nutrition and exercise at this critical juncture in their lives," said Robert Murray, M.D., director of medical affairs, Pediatric Nutritionals, Abbott, and a participant on the Summit's expert panel. "We have an opportunity and responsibility to help shape their views on balanced nutrition and the importance of exercise to promote healthful lifelong habits."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, treatment of obesity-related illnesses now costs the United States nearly $93 billion a year, and as the incidence of obesity rises and public discourse grows, appropriate policy responses are needed. Participants in the summit will examine many factors that are driving the rise in obesity and the challenges to be considered in fighting it, including the importance of genetic-based research to understand hereditary factors in obesity; food-related advertising and marketing to children; responsibility for health care costs related to obesity; the prevalence and nutritional value of restaurant foods; and much more.
As a result of this summit, students will disseminate a policy paper in mid July to help influence government leaders and other policymakers across the country to better understand adolescents, who represent 19 percent of the total population and are viewed as a hard-to-reach population and are faced with this growing health problem. An estimated total of 155 million adolescents worldwide are overweight, with 30-45 million classified as obese, which accounts for about 3 percent of the world's children between the ages of 5-17.
In Chicago, Abbott has been working collaboratively with the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC), a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program housed within the Center for Obesity Management and Prevention (COMP) at the Children's Memorial Research Center of Children's Memorial Hospital. Matt Longjohn, M.D., M.P.H., executive director of CLOCC, will be speaking at the expert panel on efforts that have brought together hundreds of organizations and individuals in Chicago, with the common goal of protecting Chicago children from the effects of the obesity epidemic. This organization has led four new bills to be passed in the state of Illinois on food access, physical education, nutrition habits and transportation enhancements, which have had a profound impact on next steps for adolescent obesity.
"This program provides outstanding learning opportunities in the areas of research, critical thinking and decision making," said Peter Adler, Ph.D., president, The Keystone Center. "By asking the questions and interacting with experts and stakeholders, students increase their understanding of this complicated issue and the social and political implications of addressing it."
The Summit's panel includes company representatives from: Abbott; Cargill; Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods and other industry experts including:
-- Dr. Lisa Harnack, associate professor and assistant director, Nutrition Coordinating Center, University of Minnesota, Division of Epidemiology;
-- Tony Jorstad, director of food service, Brighton Public Schools, Colorado;
-- Matt Longjohn, M.D., M.P.H., executive director, Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC)
-- Jim Muldavin, executive director, The California Center for Civic
Participation and Youth Development:
-- Rodger Steeper, M.D., internal medicine, Denver, Colorado;
-- Dr. Susan Yanovski, co-director, Office of Obesity Research, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases.
Participating schools include:
-- Conroe ISD Academy of Science and Technology, Houston, Texas;
-- Center for Advanced Technologies, St. Petersburg, Florida;
-- Berrien County Mathematics and Science Center, Berrien Springs, Michigan;
-- Liberal Arts and Science Academy of Austin at LBJ High School, Austin, Texas;
-- Central Virginia's Governor's School for Science and Technology, Lynchburg, Virginia;
-- Illinois Math and Science Academy, Aurora, Illinois;
-- High School for Math, Science and Engineering at the City College, New York, City, New York;
-- Lakeshore Math/Science Center, Stevensville, Michigan;
-- North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham, North Carolina;
-- Arkansas School for Math, Science and the Arts, Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Headquartered in Keystone, Colorado, The Keystone Center strives to equip citizens with deliberative frameworks, democratic processes, analytical information and critical-thinking skills to navigate tough problems and develop solutions. Through its two major programs, The Keystone Center for Science and Public Policy and the Center for Education, The Keystone Center improves decisions about long-term issues by helping thought-leaders and decision-makers effectively address technically complex, politically uncertain situations and by helping students learn and teachers teach. For more information on The Keystone Center, visit www.keystone.org.
Abbott (NYSE:ABT) is a global company engaged in the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs more than 60,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries. The company's revenues were nearly $20 billion in 2004.Source: PRNewswire, Abbott Laboratories, Hoover's