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What is really causing the child obesity epidemic?

BOSTON -- One of the biggest health problems facing children today is pediatric obesity. Getting to the core of what is causing obesity and how the U.S. can tackle this problem is the focus of a topic symposium at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Boston.

The symposium, "The Development of Our Obesogenic Environment: How Did We Get Here and How Do We Get Out?" will take place on Monday, April 30, 2012, at 3:30 p.m. ET at the Sheraton Boston Hotel Grand Ballroom.

Pediatric health experts will tackle the roles played by social and economic structures, the quality of the food supply, and the influence of the food industry in the obesity epidemic. In addition, the dilemma of whether to view extreme cases of pediatric obesity as a form of parental medical neglect will be discussed. Each presentation will focus on public health policy and how adjustments to these policies may contribute to, and ultimately, help turn the tide in the pediatric obesity epidemic.

"This symposium will provide a unique perspective of how political, cultural, and market influences have contributed to our pediatric obesity problem," said Brandon M. Nathan, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, University of Minnesota. "The audience will leave with a new-found appreciation for the importance of public health policy in the origins and solutions for the epidemic of pediatric obesity. I hope this symposium raises attendees' awareness of their potential roles as public health advocates in their own communities and beyond."

The session will take place 3:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. and include:

3:30 p.m. - Stopping Obesity: A Public Health Perspective
Deb Cohen, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA

4:00 p.m. - The Impact of Dietary Composition to Childhood Obesity
Cara Ebbeling, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA

4:30 p.m. - The Economic Engine of Pediatric Obesity: How the Food Industry Has Helped Shape the Obesity Epidemic and the Role of Government Policy in Curbing Its Past and Future Influence
Inas Rashad Kelly, Queens College of the City University of New York, Flushing, NY

5:00 p.m. - Pediatric Morbid Obesity Constitute a Form of Medical Neglect? The Case for and Against Legal Intervention
Norman Fost, University of Wisconsin Hospital, Madison, WI

Contact: Debbie Jacobson
American Academy of Pediatrics

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