Children's health has zoomed into focus
after experts from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) have
announced a statewide public health conference, specifically regarding childhood
obesity and diabetes. "Health practitioners and professionals, educators, and
policy makers who focus on children's health," have been invited to gather together
on September 24 in Baton Rouge by the Center's conference organizers. Their agenda
includes discussions on the extent of these diseases among Louisiana children, its
causes and probable solutions.
The conference is a 20th anniversary
initiative of the Center and is designed to develop public health strategies
specific to Louisiana that can be employed to tackle the growing problem of
Headed by Center researcher and Associate
Executive Director of Population Science, Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., this
first-of-its-kind gathering of public health researchers and experts will
culminate with the release of the most current data on Louisiana children's
physical activity levels and related health status in the form of a report
card. Katzmarzyk was a leader in a similar effort to produce a national report
card in Canada. That annual report has since become an important and
anticipated measure of that country's efforts to improve children's health.
According to Katzmarzyk, "Childhood obesity
is fast becoming the greatest public health challenge facing America. During
the 1980's and 1990's, the number of overweight and obese children skyrocketed,
resulting in a growing number of children facing health consequences that were
traditionally only experienced by adults."
The conference will convene in Baton Rouge
on Wednesday, September 24. "We are extending the invitation to physicians,
nutritionists, physical activity specialists, dieticians, nurses, health
educators, psychologists, counselors, healthcare policy makers, researchers,
the media, business and civic leaders, parks and recreation personnel, and
early childhood and school-age decision-makers," said Katzmarzyk. The
conference, to be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Pennington Biomedical
Center campus, is entitled Childhood Obesity and Public Health: A Lifespan
Approach to Prevention.
"This public health conference will bring
together local, national and international experts on the topic of childhood
obesity, with a focus on prevention," Katzmarzyk said, "The more we learn about
childhood obesity, the more we understand that prevention must begin early -
there is evidence to suggest that some aspects of childhood obesity are
triggered prior to birth."