Who Is Winning the Childhood Obesity Battle?

THU, OCT 7, 2010 (1:29:07)

Panelist discuss gains and losses in the battle against childhood obesity, and address which policies on childhood obesity are effective, as well as whether calorie counting, food labeling, and junk food taxes are fair to those who are not at risk for obesity. At the heart of the discussion lie the questions: what is causing obesity, who is responsible for policing it, and what are the unintended consequences of the methods we’ve tried thus far?

Dr. Dong-Chul Seo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Heath Science at Indiana University; Dr. Marlene Schwartz of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University; Karen Voci, Executive Director of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation; and Dr. Frank Robinson, Executive Director of Partners for a Healthier Community, join Dr. Chris Economos, the New Balance Chair of Childhood Nutrition at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition for this talk.

+ BIO: Dong-Chul Seo

Dr. Dong-Chul Seo is Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Health Science at Indiana University. His current research interests include policy and socio-ecological approaches in obesity prevention. Seo has authored or co-authored 45 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including American Journal of Public Health, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Journal of Adolescent Health, American Journal of Health Behavior, and many more. He has been Principal Investigator on six research grants from the federal or state government. Seo has served as a grant reviewer for a number of agencies, including the National Science Foundation; as an editor for the Californian Journal of Health Promotion; and as a Board member of the American Academy of Health Behavior (AAHB). He is also an award-winning master teacher, receiving the Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award four times.

+ BIO: Chris Economos

Dr. Chris Economos is the Associate Director of the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention; the New Balance Chair in Childhood Nutrition; and an Associate Professor at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition and Tufts School of Medicine. She has received a Bachelor of Science from Boston University, a Master of Science in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University, and a doctorate in Nutrition Science from Tufts University.

Economos' research efforts have addressed the interaction between exercise, diet, body composition, bone health, and the built environment aimed at preventing osteoporosis and obesity starting in early childhood. She is the principal investigator of multiple large-scale studies examining childhood nutrition and physical activity with the goal of inspiring behavior, policy, and environmental change to improve the health of America's children. She has worked effectively with diverse communities and has crafted, implemented, and evaluated a physical activity and nutrition education curriculum. Economos' work engages theory and scientific evidence as vehicles to spark systemic, community-based change.

+ BIO: Karen Voci

Karen Voci is executive director of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. Voci most recently served as Senior Vice President for Program for The Rhode Island Foundation, one of the nation’s largest community foundations, where she worked for more than 16 years. Prior to that, she directed community school programs in Jamaica Plain and Dorchester, led the United Nations International Year of the Child observance for the state of Massachusetts, and headed the capital campaign for the Williamstown Regional Art Conservation Laboratory.

Voci has held program officer positions with the Max and Anna Levinson Foundation and the New Hampshire Charitable Fund, and has served as a consultant to the Mott Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust. She was a member of Rhode Island Oral Health Commission and on the board of Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island. She is currently on the Board of Grant Makers in Health, a national leadership organization for health philanthropies. Voci holds degrees in sociology from Simmons College and American University. She has served as an elected representative to the school committee of East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

+ BIO: Frank Robinson

Dr. Frank Robinson is a public health professional with more than 30 years of experience working in community health education and has served as executive director for Partners for a Healthier Community for the past 13 years. Under Frank’s leadership, PHC has become a preeminent public health promotion organization in western Massachusetts and well-regarded as a community nonprofit incubator and capacity building organization.

Before joining PHC, Robinson worked for four years as director of the City of Springfield’s Community Partnership grant for substance abuse prevention. Earlier in his career, he directed the development of local and regional systems operated by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

A graduate of State University of New York at Oswego, Robinson received a master’s degree in community psychology from Mansfield University and a doctorate in public health from University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

+ BIO: Marlene Schwartz

Dr. Marlene Schwartz serves as Deputy Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. She received her B.A. from Haverford College and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Psychology from Yale University. Schwartz completed her clinical internship at the Yale Medical School and post-doctoral training in the Yale Department of Psychology. Prior to joining the Rudd Center, she served as Co-Director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders from 1996 to 2006.

Schwartz's research is focused on how home environments, communities, and school landscapes shape the eating attitudes and behaviors of children. She frequently collaborates on state projects with the Connecticut State Department of Education, including a large research studies funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Eating Research Program. Schwartz was also the recipient of a transition grant from Robert Wood Johnson in 2008 to create a website based on the school wellness policy coding system that she developed with national colleagues. Her other areas of research include studies on the effect of food marketing directed at children, and how the WIC program changes the accessibility and affordability of healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods.

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