A fabulous panel of experts from a variety of backgrounds in obesity work and from across the US opened the 8th Annual Southern Obesity Summit in Louisville, Kentucky last night. Dr. Stephanie Mayfield Gibson, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Public Health set the stage by sharing what’s happening in Kentucky, both from data and programmatic perspectives, as well as statewide goals to make our state a safer, healthier place to live, play and work.
Larry Cohen, Executive Director of the Prevention Institute inspired us with his work around helping communities address equity and prevention strategies. When talking about influencers of population health, 70% of the influence is related to behaviors and environment, 20% related to genetics and 10% related to medical care (access). And guess what? 3% is spent on prevention as opposed to 97% spent on health care expenditures!
Major General Allen Youngman spoke next, a retired and now with Mission Readiness, a nonpartisan national security organization of more than 450 retired admirals and generals calling for smart investments in America's children. He began by telling us the history of the National School Lunch Program (post WWII) being a result of malnourished boys and young men not ready and able to enlist. It began as a partnership between Departments of Education, Agriculture and Defense.
70% of our youth are ineligible to serve our country for two reasons: #1 overweight or obese and #2 educationally unfit. The military is not in the business to bring these youth into training and getting them into shape. And, among those currently serving, many are at higher risk of injury as a result of poor nutrition during their childhood.
David Jones, Jr., Chairman of Chrysalis Ventures and on the Board of Education of Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville metro school district) talked about new tools at our fingertips that will help support policy change, create better environments and encourage people to move more and eat healthier. Use of big data to drive healthy decisions and smart phones were two tools he talked about. From a public health perspective, smart phones monitors where we are, what we are doing, who we are talking to. And, those data can change behavior and encourage and support healthy habits.
Thanks to the panelists for kicking off the conference! To stay tuned/in touch, use #SOSKY2014 on Twitter.