August 30, 2001
Teaming up for lighter living
Nearly 97 million Americans are overweight
or obese - almost 60 percent of the adult population - and
one in 10 children are considered obese. Americans annually
spend $33 billion on weight-reduction products including diet
foods, products and programs so why is the problem spreading?
"Don't Weight! Teaming up For Lighter Living," an
interdisciplinary community symposium on overweight and obesity
hosted by California State University, Sacramento from 8 a.m.
- 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29 plans to address the staggering
impacts these issues have on health as well as society.
"The trend toward overweight and obesity is a growing
problem in America," says Carolyn VanCouwenberghe, CSUS
nursing professor and symposium organizer. "It affects
children and adults, men and women and knows no ethnic boundaries.
In this symposium health professionals and consumers will
join together to tackle the problem. Whether your interest
is personal or you wish to help someone else, you'll learn
how even the smallest change can make a significant difference."
And VanCouwenberghe knows what she's talking about. About
two years ago, weighing 210 pounds, she assigned her students
to write papers on the topic of overweight and obesity and
how to teach and motivate someone to lose weight. The project
changed her life.
"After reading about 10 of these papers, I was starting
to get the message," she says. "A consistent theme
in their writing was to set small goals and set yourself up
for success. So I tried it. People who have never struggled
with weight may laugh, but my first goal was 5 minutes on
the exercise bike twice a week. It had nothing to do with
pounds lost, so I felt very much in control, and I reached
Success is a powerful motivator, VanCouwenberghe says, and
she gradually increased her goals and lost more than 50 pounds.
"I feel great. Anyone who thinks that a student writing
assignment can't have a major impact needs to think again,"
The CSUS symposium on overweight and obesity was planned in
response to what many of the nation's health authorities call
a prevailing epidemic.
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher has called for intensified
efforts to combat obesity, which he identified as one of the
few national health problems that are worsening.
"Obesity is a major public health problem in this country
and one that deserves much more attention than it has received,"
said Satcher, who is only the second surgeon general to concurrently
hold the position of Assistant Secretary for Health.
"The prevalence of overweight and obesity has nearly
doubled among children and adolescents since 1980," Satcher
told public health and industry leaders at a recent international
nutrition conference. "It is also increasing in both
genders and among all population groups of adults."
A growing obesity epidemic is threatening the health of millions
of Americans in the United States, according to research by
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published
in the October 27, 1999, issue of the Journal of the American
"Overweight and physical inactivity account for more
than 300,000 premature deaths each year in the United States,
second only to tobacco-related deaths. Obesity is an epidemic
and should be taken as seriously as any infectious disease
epidemic," says Jeffrey P. Koplan, director of the CDC,
and one of the authors of the article. "Obesity and overweight
are linked to the nation's number one killer - heart disease
- as well as diabetes and other chronic conditions."
Other health risks associated with overweight and obesity
are hypertension, stroke, breathing problems, gall bladder
disease, joint problems, blood circulation problems and certain
Speakers at the symposium include Thomas W. Hopkins, a board-certified
internal medicine physician specializing in the practice of
weight management, nutrition and obesity and the medical reporter
for KCRA Channel 3; Len Kravitz, program coordinator of exercise
science University of New Mexico and the author of four books
who was awarded the 1999 Canadian Fitness Professionals "International
Presenter of the Year" award; and Pepper Von, an internationally
known fitness pro, choreographer and motivational speaker.
Discussions at the symposium will cover a wide range of topics
including weight, physiology, genetics, behavior patterns,
diets, drugs, surgical options and community resources. There
will be cooking exhibits and body composition testing.
Tickets for the symposium range from $15 - 75 and lunch is
included. Early registration is encouraged by Sept. 15.
For tickets, registration or more information call (916) 278-4969
or visit www.hhs.csus.edu/dontweight.
Media assistance is available by contacting the CSUS public
affairs office at 278-5085.
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