Experts focus on children’s health; group to issue Louisiana report card

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Released: Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baton Rouge – Experts from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) have announced a statewide public health conference to focus on children’s health, specifically regarding obesity and diabetes. The Center’s conference organizers are inviting “health practitioners and professionals, educators, and policy makers who focus on children’s health,” to gather on September 24 in Baton Rouge to determine the extent of these diseases among Louisiana children, probable causes and solutions.

            The conference is a 20th anniversary initiative of the Center and is designed to develop public health strategies specific to Louisiana that can be employed to tackle the growing problem of childhood obesity. 

            Headed up by Center researcher and Associate Executive Director of Population Science, Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., this first-of-its-kind gathering of public health researchers and experts will culminate with the release of the most current data on Louisiana children’s physical activity levels and related  health status in the form of a report card. Katzmarzyk was a leader in a similar effort to produce a national report card in Canada. That annual report has since become an important and anticipated measure of that country’s efforts to improve children’s health.

            According to Katzmarzyk, “Childhood obesity is fast becoming the greatest public health challenge facing America. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, the number of overweight and obese children skyrocketed, resulting in a growing number of children facing health consequences that were traditionally only experienced by adults.”

            The conference will convene in Baton Rouge on Wednesday, September 24. “We are extending the invitation to physicians, nutritionists, physical activity specialists, dietitians, nurses, health educators, psychologists, counselors, healthcare policy makers, researchers, the media, business and civic leaders, parks and recreation personnel, and early childhood and school-age decision-makers,” said Katzmarzyk. The conference, to be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Pennington Biomedical Center campus, is entitled Childhood Obesity and Public Health: A Lifespan Approach to Prevention.

            “This public health conference will bring together local, national and international experts on the topic of childhood obesity, with a focus on prevention,” Katzmarzyk said,  “The more we learn about childhood obesity, the more we understand that prevention must begin early – there is evidence to suggest that some aspects of childhood obesity are triggered prior to birth.”

            The Pennington Biomedical Research Center Louisiana’s Report Card on Physical Activity and Health for Children and Youth 2008 is underwritten by Gold Level sponsors, Louisiana Council on Obesity Prevention and Management, Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center; Silver sponsor, Associated Food Stores; Bronze sponsor, Louisiana Public Health Institute, and Contributing sponsor, Kleinpeter Farms Dairy.The Childhood Obesity and Public Health conference is underwritten by the Lead sponsor, Louisiana Council on Obesity Prevention and Management and Contributing sponsor, Baton Rouge Coca Cola.

            Pre-registration is required. The conference is free if participants pre-register and attend. Go to for more information.




The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.