9/1/2004

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Contact: Kim Johnson, Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management, (785) 864-0797, kim@ku.edu

CDC specialist to highlight KU's annual obesity conference in Kansas City

LAWRENCE -- A nationally recognized expert in nutrition and exercise from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta will address the sixth annual conference on the prevention and treatment of obesity Sept. 9-11 in Kansas City, Mo.

The University of Kansas and the Maternal and Child Health Coalition of Greater Kansas City co-sponsor the conference, which draws healthcare professionals and community activists from the four-state region.

William Dietz, director of CDC's Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, will give the Sept. 9 keynote address about the challenges of combating childhood obesity.

"Each year at this conference we focus on a particular aspect of obesity," said Joe Donnelly, director of KU's Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management. "Our conference will examine the impact of obesity on children and will provide prevention and treatment strategies in school, community and clinic settings. In addition, the conference will highlight what action the healthcare industry is currently taking to promote physical activity and nutrition."

Obesity has become a national epidemic, Donnelly said, and the Kansas City region is no exception. A recent ABC News poll listed Kansas City, Mo., and Wichita as two of the 25 fattest cities in America. Nationally, 25 percent of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. This has translated into greater health risks for children, most notably a dramatic increase in type 2 diabetes.

Besides Dietz, speakers at the conference will include Debra Sullivan, associate professor of dietetics and nutrition at the KU Medical Center; Tarak Srivastava, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine; Robert McMurray, professor of exercise, sport science and nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; James Anderson, professor of medicine and clinical nutrition at the University of Kentucky, Lexington; and Leonard Epstein, distinguished professor of pediatrics with the Division of Behavioral Medicine at the University of Buffalo, New York.

The complete schedule and list of speakers is available at the conference's web site, http://www.ebl.ku.edu/conference_2004.html.

The event at the Marriott Hotel, 200 W. 12th St. in Kansas City, is open to the public and the media. Health-care professionals, educators, youth workers and community activists may register for the conference by contacting Kim Johnson at (785) 864-0797 or kim@ku.edu.

Media should RSVP to Nancy Besa at (816) 674-4775 or besapr@aol.com. Registration also is available at the conference's Web site.

A Saturday-only (Sept. 11) registration for the public is available for $30.

The Maternal and Child Health Coalition comprises local individuals and organizations focused on improving the health care of women and children in the Kansas City area.

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