2nd Annual Childhood Obesity Summit

More than 120 healthcare professionals and community advocates from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties joined together on February 11, 2009 for the region’s 2nd Annual Childhood Obesity Summit sponsored by CenCal Health. “This annual summit is about pooling community resources across two local counties to learn about the latest local programs and resources that address the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity,” CenCal Health’s CEO, Lyle Luman, MBA, FACHE explained. “Everyone who came — clinicians, registered dietitians, health and school professionals, and community organizations – is concerned about the staggering numbers of overweight children in our region. Close to 30% of school age children in our counties are overweight.”

The intention of the annual conference is to provide a forum for professionals to network and learn about promising programs and available community resources. This is the second year that CenCal Health has hosted the event.

This year’s keynote speaker, Kate Adamick, JD, is a Food Systems Consultant and Director of the Orfalea Fund’s s’Cool Food Initiative. Her topic, “Tipping the Scales: The Role of School Food in Children’s Health” discussed the relationships between nutrition, health, and disease and stated that there is an imperative need for schools to shift gears and provide healthier food choices despite limited food budgets.

Suzanne Michaud, MPH, Senior Health Promotion Educator at CenCal Health moderated the event. Other presenters included Caro Stinson, RD, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department who spoke about the “WIC Program: Food Changes for the Future” and a panel of experts who addressed the issue of “Giving Children Healthy Choices”. Panelist Judy Taggart, MS, CHES, Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization talked about “Parent’s Perception of Childhood Obesity”; panelist Kim Pasciuto, Central Coast Agricultural Network, San Luis Obispo County covered the topic “Farm to School Program: Making It a Success”; panelist Christy Schuerch, MA, MFT Coalition on Community Wellness, Santa Barbara addressed “Childhood Obesity and Urban Planning: Lessons Learned with Plan SB”; and panelist Andria Ruth, MD, Diabetes Resource Center focused on “Community-Based Programs for Obesity Prevention”. Each speaker shared program components and strategies they have used to promote obesity prevention with children, teens, new moms and infants, in school settings and the community.

“The Childhood Obesity Summit is central to the mission of CenCal Health, which is to improve the health and well-being of citizens throughout the Central Coast by providing access to quality medical services and collaborate with health professionals and partners to improve the health of our members and the community. CenCal Health provides comprehensive health care coverage to nearly 90,000 residents of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, including administering the State’s Medi-Cal program for low income families.

For more information about CenCal Health, visit www.cencalhealth.org or phone 1-800-421-2560.