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New Jersey to Launch New Statewide Effort to Promote Childhood Obesity Prevention

TRENTON, N.J., March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- A unique coalition of health care providers and other stakeholders announced plans on Monday to convene an important groundbreaking summit on March 31st to provide professionals and other caregivers of children with practical hands-on guidance to help prevent childhood obesity in a child's early years.

The all-day "New Jersey Conference on the Prevention of Childhood Obesity" will be held on March 31, 2009 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Monroe, New Jersey. Sponsoring organizations include the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, the Pediatric Council on Research and Education (PCORE), the New Jersey Council of Children's Hospitals, the Central New Jersey Maternal and Child Health Consortium, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council, Inc., the American Heart Association and the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association. Professionals attending the conference will receive continuing education credit.

"Childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels not only in New Jersey but around the country. Experts report that the current generation of children may be the first in our nation's history to live sicker and shorter lives than their parents," said New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. "We must address childhood obesity aggressively now to stem the growing number of overweight young people and improve quality of life for future generations."

Dr. Richard Goldstein, President & CEO of the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals and a former NJ Commissioner of Health added, "The conference is a critically important first step toward providing those who are in most frequent contact with our children the guidance they need to stem this national epidemic."

"There is no issue facing our state or nation more vital to the overall health and wellbeing of our youngest citizens," remarked Dr. Steven Kairys, Chairman of Pediatrics, K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. "On March 31st, we hope to get New Jersey moving in the right direction on this issue."

"It is the mission of the Council of Children's Hospitals to train the next generation of physicians and health care professionals and to promote evidence-based medicine to improve safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of the children's health care system," said Connie Meyers, who serves as the Council's Executive Director. "The March 31st Conference will help fulfill both those missions."

Stephen Percy, MD, Vice-Chairman of Pediatrics, The Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital, Hackensack University Medical Center, said, "Hackensack University Medical Center is pleased to be supporting this important summit on the issue of childhood obesity. While the epidemic of adult obesity has been well covered in the media, an equally concerning and not as well covered epidemic has hit our children. Lifetime patterns of behavior are well established in childhood and we know that childhood obesity leads directly to adult obesity making it so important to address this issue early on."

"AAP NJ and PCORE are reaching out to primary care providers who are in a unique position to educate families on the importance of good nutrition and activity from prenatal through adolescence," explained Harriet Lazarus, Program Director, NJ Pediatric Council on Research & Education. "For example: encouraging breastfeeding for infants, limiting screen time in front of televisions and computers and electronic games. We provide support to providers to help get messages out to children and their families preventatively as part of being a Medical Home."

Althea Zanecosky, MS, RD, representing the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council Inc., said "The American Dairy Association and Mid Atlantic Dairy Association are strong advocates of obesity prevention as low fat milk and dairy products play an important role in the health of our youth. We work with schools throughout the state to provide nutrition education and encourage physical activity through a broad range of programs ranging from classroom lessons to revamping cafeteria menus. Two years ago, we introduced a 'New Look of School Milk' in New Jersey cafeterias -- a simple change in packaging from cardboard carton to plastic chug -- which resulted in a 18 percent average increase in milk consumption -- and today over 314 schools in NJ have the New Milk."

Robyn D'Oria, Executive Director, Central NJ Maternal & Child Health Consortium, said "The Central New Jersey Maternal and Child Health Consortium, Inc. (CNJMCHC) is a leading private not for profit (501(c) (3) organization serving Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset Counties and the Plainfield portion of Union County. A key function of the Central Consortium is to build community partnerships and bring together key stakeholders interested in addressing health issues related to women and children. The Conference will build upon these efforts by demonstrating the value of public-private partnerships in implementing community based obesity prevention programs."

The March 31st conference is designed to be a unique educational symposium to equip those who care for our children with practical "nuts and bolts" applications to prevent childhood obesity, particularly by engaging children and parents early in a child's life. The conference is aimed at school administrators and nurses, physical education teachers, dietitians, physicians, patient safety administrators and others. The conference will review obesity rates among our youngest children in America; examine feeding patterns which have contributed to increased incidence; examine activity levels that promote health; teach participants how to use and interpret BMI for children 2 years of age and older; and, introduce age appropriate anticipatory guidance and messages, in an effort to establish sound nutrition and activity advice.

For more information about the conference, including registration information, please visit

Contact: Donald Sico (609) 351-3591

SOURCE New Jersey Council of Children?s Hospitals
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