|NIEHS Brings Researchers and Leaders
Together to Find Environmental Solutions to Childhood
Washington, DC — National and
community leaders join researchers today to sort out
how a child’s environment increases the risk for obesity
and to identify ways the environment can be changed
to address this health epidemic. More than 700 people
will gather for a two-day conference, “Environmental
Solutions to Obesity in America’s Youth” sponsored by
the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences,
one of the National Institutes of Health.
“We all know that eating nutritious foods and getting
plenty of physical activity will help kids maintain
a healthy weight. But how can kids make the right choices
if they live in communities where they can’t walk to
school or play in a park because of distance, traffic,
or crime?” asks Dr. David Schwartz, director of NIEHS.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike
Leavitt, Lynn Swann, former professional football star
and current Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical
Fitness and Sports, and Surgeon General Richard Carmona,
will join Schwartz at the conference to:
- Learn more about how the environment impacts childhood
- Build on promising programs to create safe, healthy
communities that help kids make healthy choices.
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who started the Healthy
Arkansas initiative while losing 110 pounds,
will be the closing keynote speaker.
“The ultimate goal is to create environments that help
stem the obesity epidemic,” said Schwartz. “This means
shaping communities that promote healthy food choices
and safe places to run and play.” In the last three
decades, obesity has doubled among preschoolers and
adolescents and tripled among kids between the ages
of 6 and 11.
The NIEHS is working to determine how the environment
affects obesity. Throughout the conference, researchers,
policy makers, community and transportation planners,
builders, architects, teachers and school administrators,
industry, non-profit, medical and health care personnel,
and national, state and local leaders will fully explore
how they can work together to find environmental solutions
to America’s childhood obesity problem.
Government and community leaders will share their success
stories. Speakers from such organizations as Latino
Health Access and California Adolescent Nutrition and
Fitness will discuss how they developed culturally appropriate
environmental solutions to obesity in minority communities.
North Carolina’s Division of Public Health will showcase Eat
Smart Move More…North Carolina, a statewide initiative
promoting increased opportunities for physical activity
and healthy eating through policy and environmental
Representatives from Florida, Massachusetts, and North
Carolina transportation organizations will discuss how
they improved children’s health by making walking and
bicycling to school safer, easier and more enjoyable.
Researchers from the National Center for Smart Growth,
Louisiana State University, and Emory University will
share their research and insights on how to effectively
find and assess the connection between the environment
Industry will also be part of the discussion. Sesame
Street will join a panel discussion with Pepsico, Sony
Computer Entertainment, Stonyfield Farm, child advocacy
organization Children Now, youth fitness program Girls
on the Run, and child health experts on the role industry
and media can play in lowering childhood obesity rates.
Youth exercise and dance programs, including the Belvoir
Steppers, a stomp-dance and drumming group from Fort
Belvoir, VA, will be featured at the evening reception.
New videogame-based exercise programs from Sony and
Powergrid Fitness will also be demonstrated.
More information about NIEHS is at http://www.niehs.nih.gov.
The conference Web site is http://www-apps.niehs.nih.gov/conferences/drcpt/oe2005/index.cfm.
Funding for the conference is provided in part by the
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.