March 26, 2007
Contact: Kaylyn Kendall Dines
Phone: (973) 972-3000
Congressional Black Caucus Sponsors Obesity Conference at UMDNJ
NEWARK — The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey will be the host site of a conference entitled, Bursting Out of Our Seams: Confronting the Challenge of Obesity in Our Communities. Congressman Donald M. Payne and the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust will sponsor the conference on Saturday, March 31, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities at UMDNJ will host the conference in an educational conference center at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School, 50 Twelfth Avenue in Newark.
Obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic medical diseases that disproportionately impact African Americans and Latinos will be discussed during the conference, which is free and open to the public. In addition to public testimony, panel discussions will cover research outcomes, community-based intervention programs, and the socioeconomic impact of obesity and diabetes on the health care system, families, and employers. The conference is expected to raise awareness, promote wellness, and identify evidence-based solutions that will help combat the obesity.
“The Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust recognizes the importance of providing information and seeking input from people in the communities we serve including faith leaders, educators, researchers, policy analysts and health care professionals,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, of the 10th District in New Jersey. “During this conference, we want to mobilize our resources and begin developing public policies aimed at helping families discover practical ways to fight the nationwide obesity epidemic.”
The guest speakers for the conference are: Dr. Arthur Agatston, author of The South Beach Diet, Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, and Dr. Reed Tuckson, of UnitedHealth Group.
Panel session topics include: The “Local Issues on Weight Prevalence and Cultural Perspectives” session will explore the influence of cultural factors on body image, perception of healthy weight and alternative approaches to weight loss, particularly in ethnic minority and low income populations; “Community Access to Quality Foods” will highlight obesity, weight loss and nutritious eating in relation to geographical and neighborhood inequalities; “Public Policy’s Role in Reducing Obesity” is a session that is designed to explain how current health and social policies impact obesity among low-income and minority populations. Panelist in this session will describe the legislative and public policy changes that are needed to reduce obesity in low-income and minority populations.
Other sessions include: Reducing Childhood Obesity; Dispelling Diet Myths; Promoting Physical Activity in Our Neighborhoods; Work Site Solutions and Wellness Programs; and The Efficacy of Surgery and Pharmaceutical Approaches to Weight Loss.
“By identifying strategies, solutions and successful interventions, we are taking a step forward in the battle against the national obesity epidemic. One in three Americans or 58 million people, are considered either overweight or obese,” said Dr. Diane Brown, executive director of the Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health. “We seek to identify innovative methods of tackling challenges associated with obesity reduction in communities of color and accessing quality foods in low-income communities.”
According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, obesity is defined as the excess accumulation of body fat, which is a risk factor for many chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, respiratory problems, and some forms of cancer. While New Jersey’s obesity rates are slightly lower than national rates, there is still cause for concern. The prevalence of obesity is significantly higher among blacks when compared to all other groups. In 2005, thirty-two percent of black New Jerseyans were obese when compared with the 22 percent obesity rate among whites and Hispanics.
A person is considered obese if their body mass index (BMI) is over 30.0. BMI is determined by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. Obesity is the excess accumulation of body fat. An overweight person generally has a BMI of between 25.0 and 29.9.
Support for this conference has been provided by the following sponsors: Johnson & Johnson, Prudential Financial, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, and the Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, and Masterfoods USA and Novo Nordisk, Inc.
On Friday, March 30, from 9 a.m. to noon, a Scientific Symposium on the Metabolic Syndrome and Health Disparities will be held at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School,
185 South Orange Avenue, Room C-600, Newark. The purpose of the symposium is to identify the factors and strategies to address metabolic syndrome health disparities.
For more information, call Tracey Richardson at 973-972-4383 or send an e-mail to email@example.com. Or, visit http://www2.umdnj.edu/iehdweb/upcoming_events/index.htm.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network