State Health Department Announces New York State Childhood Obesity Prevention "Summit Meeting"

ALBANY, N.Y., November 27, 2006 - New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today announced a landmark "summit meeting" on childhood obesity that will feature nationally known experts on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 28-29, in Albany.

The New York State Childhood Obesity Prevention Invitational Summit at the Desmond Hotel and Convention Center will bring together experts from government, academia, health organizations and other groups to explore the current science, potential solutions and policies on child obesity prevention in an effort to provide valuable information sharing, networking and promotion of partnerships for implementation of the New York Strategic Plan for Overweight and Obesity Prevention.

"Our goal is to ensure that New York's children have every opportunity to grow up healthy and strong," said Commissioner Novello. "This summit will bring an important group of stakeholders together to continue our fight to improve and protect the health and well-being of our children."

Childhood obesity is one of the most important health challenges facing New York's families. Children today have a lower life expectancy than their parents, largely due to the rise in obesity and related chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Seventeen percent of children ages 2-19 in the United States are classified as obese. In parts of New York State as many as 24 percent of children are classified as obese.

Dr. Barbara Dennison, Director of the Department's Bureau of Health Risk Reduction and nationally recognized obesity expert, said, "We are looking forward to joining with our partners across New York State and the country to review what science tells us about childhood obesity prevention and to forge changes that will safeguard our children's health."

The summit was planned as an important step in implementing the 2005 New York State Strategic Plan for Overweight and Obesity Prevention. Among the goals of that plan are:

  • awareness of overweight and obesity as a public health threat;
  • early recognition of overweight and/or excessive weight gain;
  • effective public health responses to the obesity epidemic in New York State; and,
  • Expanding surveillance and program evaluation to prevent overweight and obesity.

The full Strategic Plan can be found at: http://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/obesity/strategic_plan.htm.

The summit includes presenters well-known in the national obesity prevention arena, including Marion Nestle, PhD, author of Food Politics and What to Eat; William Dietz, MD, Director of the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and, Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating. Other blue ribbon panelists include researchers and policymakers from Harvard University, Cornell University and the University of Rochester.

The Department of Health has partnered with 31 groups in organizing the summit, including the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. The Medical Society of the State of New York is co-sponsoring a session on potential legislation.