The 8th Annual Southern Obesity Summit is being held, for the first time, in the state of Kentucky on October 5-7, 2014, at the Marriott Downtown in Louisville. Presented annually by the Texas Health Institute and partner organizations in the host state, the Southern Obesity Summit is the largest regional obesity prevention event in the United States, drawing hundreds of participants from 16 Southern States including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
During the three-day summit, approximately 400 participants will convene in Louisville to share emerging and effective obesity prevention policy and practices from across the region. Attendees will include policymakers, leaders from community based organizations, federal and state government officials, health care providers, youth and members from national and state associations.
Joining the Texas Health Institute in presenting this year’s Southern Obesity Summit is the Shaping Kentucky’s Future Collaborative, a coalition of Kentucky funders committed to more effective policies supporting healthy nutrition and active lifestyles. Shaping Kentucky’s Future Collaborative has raised over $54,000 from their own foundations and local partners to support the Southern Obesity Summit. These foundations and partners include the Blue Grass Community Foundation & Lexington East End Equity Partnership, The Greater Clark Foundation, Community Ventures Corp. (CVC), Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, GE Appliances, Kentucky Department for Public Health, KentuckyOne Health, Norton Healthcare, UK Healthcare, and the Community Foundation of Louisville.
Collaborative Chair Lisa Adkins, CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, said “We see hosting the Southern Obesity Summit as another important step in bringing together the many groups in Kentucky working to reduce the risks of obesity for children and adults, so we can commit to a shared action agenda going forward.”
Obesity is one of Kentucky’s most dire and burdensome public health epidemics. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Kentucky had the highest percentage of obese high schools students in the nation in 2013 at 18%. In addition, the Bluegrass State now has the fifth highest adult obesity rate in the nation according a report recently released by the Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The Southern Obesity Summit began with seed capital from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a spinoff project of the Southern Rural Access Program, a seven-year initiative to improve access to care led by Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, the 18th Surgeon General of the United States. Louisville joins a number of southern cities who have previously hosted the Southern Obesity Summit including Little Rock, Birmingham, Austin, Atlanta, New Orleans, Charlotte, and Nashville.