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 childhood obesity.
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.”