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Conference to Address State's Obesity Epidemic, December 11

Obesity Conference at Rutgers

Obesity prevention experts from around the country will gather for an all-day conference on Tuesday, December 11, to present the latest research and innovative techniques used in the battle against obesity.

The conference, which is open to professionals in education, public health and related fields, and to parents, will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hilton in East Brunswick.

This year’s conference – "Obesity Prevention in New Jersey - The State of the State: Important Next Steps" – focuses on a systematic approach to combating obesity, with strategies that can be implemented in school, workplace, community and early childcare settings. The event is jointly sponsored by Shaping NJ at the New Jersey Department of Health; New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids/N.J. YMCA State Alliance; Family and Community Health Sciences at Rutgers Cooperative Extension; and the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health at Rutgers University.

The conference is geared toward professionals and individuals who can implement the recommendations across the different settings. They include health educators, health care providers, dieticians, teachers, school nurses, food service providers, PE teachers, early care educators and parents. The conference has been approved for continuing education credits for many of these professions.

The rising tide of obesity is a real threat to New Jersey. More than 23 percent of the state’s adults and more than 10 percent of all children are obese. Most seriously, more than 17 percent of New Jersey’s toddlers (age 2-4 years) are obese, putting the Garden State among the 10 worst states for that age group.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Terry T-K Huang, professor and chair of the Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health at UNMC College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, will share his systems approach to obesity prevention and provide a call-to-action for New Jersey at the conclusion of the program. Huang is a member of the White House Healthy Kids Working Group and senior adviser to the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research.

The afternoon speaker, Dr. Marlene Schwartz, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, will discuss community level efforts to improve the nutritional environment for children. Co-chair of Connecticut’s Obesity Task Force, Schwartz’s research addresses how home environments, school landscapes, neighborhoods, and the media shape eating attitudes and behaviors of children.

Morning workshops will feature more than a dozen distinguished professionals representing the USDA, CDC, N.J. Department of Agriculture, N.J. Department of Children and Families, NACCHO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Employers Association of New Jersey, N.J. Partnership for Healthy Kids, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, and Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

For the full agenda and registration information,visit or call 732-932-9271 x 622.

The conference is coordinated by the Office of Continuing Professional Education for the Rutgers Department of Family and Community Health Services and the conference co-sponsors.

Photo: Attendees at 2010 obesity conference.

Photo credit: EEStudios




NJ Adult Obesity Rates

  • Prior to 1996, less than 15% of New Jersey citizens were considered obese (Body Mass Index of 30 or greater).
  • By 2004, NJ passed the 20% mark.
  • In 2011, 23.5% of New Jerseyans are obese and a staggering 60.7% are overweight, with a Body Mass Index of 25 or greater.


NJ Child Obesity Rates

  • In 2011, 10.3% of NJ adolescents and 17.3% of young children (ages 2 through 4) are obese.

Costs Associated With Obesity (nationwide)

  • Medical care costs of obesity totaled $147 billion in 2008.
  • Annual medical costs for obese people was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight in 2008.

How Obesity Affects Groups (nationwide)

  • Among adults, obesity affects some groups more than others. Non-hispanic blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates (49.5%) compared to Mexican Americans (40.4%), all Hispanics (39.1%) and non-Hispanic whites (34.4%).
  • There is no significant relationship between obesity and education among men. Among women, however, there is a trend – those with college degrees are less likely to be obese compared to less educated women.
  • There are even more significant ethnic and racial disparities in obesity rates among kids. In 2007-2008:
    • Hispanic boys, age 2 to 19, were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white boys
    • Non-Hispanic black girls were more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white girls.
  •  Low-income, preschool-aged children are disproportionately impacted; 1 in 7 is obese.







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