Over 400 participants from 16 southern states and guests from across the country convened for what is considered the largest regional obesity prevention event in the United States.
The seventh annual Southern Obesity Summit was held in Nashville, Tenn., this year to publicize effective and emerging obesity prevention and reduction practices with the hope to energize grassroots efforts in each state.
In conjunction with the summit, the Community Commons launched a new public group space dedicated to Southern Obesity Prevention Strategy (SOPS). This space was created to serve as a free resource for summit attendees and advocates from across the southern region.
In the SOPS group space, users can create free maps and reports to support and enhance their work. They can also take these existing materials from the group and apply them to their own community.
The Texas Health Institute partnered with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s office to host this year’s Southern Obesity Summit. The three day conference featured a variety of workgroup meetings, 60 presenters and over 20 breakout and plenary sessions.
Sessions were dedicated to topics such as cross-state collaboration, best practices and youth leadership in obesity prevention.
Specifically, this year had two over-arching goals:
- To effectively engage youth in strategies to prevent obesity.
- To help stakeholders strategize policy and program initiatives across all 16 states.
Attendees at the Southern Obesity Summit included policymakers, leaders from community-based organizations, federal and state government officials, health care providers, youth and members from national and state associations.
During special lunch sessions, attendees had an opportunity to learn more about coordinated school health, engaging the faith community, how to effectively use Community Commons and the role food access plays in obesity.
After the summit was in full swing, attendees split into seven different pillar work groups: early childhood, schools, food access, nutrition policy, healthcare/healthcare systems, physical activity and worksite wellness. Each group had a national-level facilitator guide them as they reviewed work from the 2012 Summit and discussed options for advancing strategies over the coming months.
The next morning, each workgroup reported on their strategy work to a distinguished panel of national leaders who then shared their perspective and approach to obesity prevention efforts.
Overall, the energy of summit attendees was high and the mood was optimistic. According to a recent report by the Trust for America’s Health, after nearly three straight decades of increase obesity rates are stabilizing in all states except for one, Arkansas. However, closing panelists reminded the audience that though the nation may be on the tipping point of a potential downward trend in obesity, it is still an epidemic and there is still much work to be done.
In December, you’ll be able to find speaker bios and presentation material at: www.southernobesitysummit.org. Check out Twitter coverage of the summit compiled on Storify: