Campus News

2014 Southeastern Conference Symposium to focus on challenge of obesity

Leann Birch

The 2014 Southeastern Conference Symposium will bring faculty, administrators and students from all 14 member universities to Atlanta Sept. 21-23 for an academic symposium on “Prevention of Obesity: Overcoming a 21st Century Public Health Challenge.”

Registration now is being accepted.

Members of UGA’s Obesity Initiative will join scholars from every SEC university to discuss the development and implementation of an effective national effort to reduce obesity rates and promote better health.

Faculty from UGA’s Obesity Initiative who will present include Leann Birch, the William P. “Bill” Flatt Childhood Obesity Professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ foods and nutrition department; Deborah Murray, associate dean for Extension and outreach in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences; Bradley Phillips, the Millikan-Reeve Professor in the College of Pharmacy’s clinical and administrative pharmacy department; Patricia Thomas, holder of the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication; and Mark Wilson, a health promotion and behavior professor in the College of Public Health.

Obesity prevention and treatment are popular topics among media, lawmakers, health care professionals and others. And, while the subjects have gained attention during the past decade, the U.S. has not seen a significant reduction in population-level obesity rates over the same 10-year span. Researchers at the SEC Symposium hope to identify ways to markedly reduce America’s obese and overweight populations through prevention.

This year’s topics range from genetics to technology and media to environmental influences. The symposium is divided into eight sessions of formal presentations and includes informal breakout sessions intended to foster interaction and discussion among participants.

In addition to university presenters, there will be two keynote speakers. On Sept. 21, Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association, will open the event. A second keynote address by Michael Lauer, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, will begin the program the following day.

Established by SEC presidents and chancellors, the annual SEC Symposium is led by an SEC university and focuses on an issue of global interest. It also showcases the academic excellence and underscores the educational and economic contributions of the SEC’s members to the vitality of the Southeast region, nation and world.

Faculty, postdoctoral students, graduate students and undergraduate students are invited to submit abstracts for the 2014 SEC Symposium poster exhibition. Abstracts must be submitted online by July 21 at 8 p.m.

Categories include community and environmental influences on weight status; genetics and physiology of obesity prevention; early life and family influences on obesity prevention; interventions targeting children and youth; school, worksite and community interventions to prevent obesity; technology interventions to prevent obesity; obesity prevention policies; and other.

From the accepted abstracts, a group of finalists will be identified and awards for first and second places will be given to undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students.

Only registered attendees may submit an abstract, and prior to submitting, registered attendees must enter their username and password