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15-state Southern obesity summit to focus on deadly epidemic

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. With Thanksgiving and end-of-the-year holidays coming soon, many Americans will eat, drink and get heavier. It is a challenging season for those working to control and reverse our nation's obesity epidemic.

Luckily this is an opportune time to remind everyone of the problem and discuss ideas and projects to combat obesity, especially in children, according to organizers of the annual 15-state Southern Obesity Summit.

The 2008 gathering will be held Nov. 9-11 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Researchers and educators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), a summit host, will welcome healthcare professionals and academic, government and scientific leaders to develop and share strategies for fighting obesity.

Summit attendees will come from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Many are part of obesity "state teams" scheduled to report on programs, legislation, research and other initiatives designed to fight the epidemic. State teams are composed of government officials, public health professionals, healthcare providers, community organizers and individuals concerned with the growing epidemic.

"Obesity is a major cause of death in the United States. Aside from mortality rates, however, obesity substantially increases sickness, disability and impaired quality of life," said David Allison, Ph.D., director of UAB's Clinical Nutrition Research Center and a summit organizer. "So much anti-obesity work has been done, but even more is needed, especially in the parts of the nation struggling with the epidemic like the South."

Speakers and panelists will include UAB researchers and Kenneth Cooper, M.D., a Texas-based health author and entrepreneur widely regarded as the "father of aerobics" for his 1986 fitness book Aerobics.

Other participants will include Donna Richardson Joyner, Buns of Steel fitness guru and appointee to the President's Council for Physical Fitness and Sports appointee; and Adewale Troutman, M.D., an associate professor at the University of Louisville and director of the Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness department. A complete schedule is online at

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta show nearly two-thirds of all Americans are either overweight or obese. Nine of the 10 fattest states are in the South. The summit will highlight community-led health initiatives, school-based efforts, personal-responsibility messages and other tactics.


Contact: Troy Goodman
University of Alabama at Birmingham

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