What schools and communities can do to promote wellness and disease prevention will be the topic of a half-day public forum at the Kimo Auditorium on Saturday, February 28.  The "Promoting Health Weight in Our Schools and Communities" forum is scheduled from 9 a.m. 1 p.m., and will be just one of a number of free activities all day in the downtown area being sponsored by a host of organizations including the UNM School of Medicine and Institute for Public Health. 

Keynote speaker will be Artemis P. Simopoulis, M.D., author of "New Concepts in Diet and Public Health" and an authority on the healthy effects of "the Mediterranean diet" that emphasizes a diet of whole grains, fresh vegetables and  fruits, fish and healthy fats.   There will also be panel discussions ranging from how cities can be designed to provide more exercise options to how schools can provide better nutrition.  Experts will include both healthcare professionals and those involved in community planning.

"Whether or not we become obese is a matter of what we eat and whether we are active.  What we eat and whether we are likely to be active are profoundly influenced by our environment.  Policy is one way of controlling environment.  The Public Forum will look at examples of how policy can impact our environment and make a difference on the challenge of obesity," said William Wiese, M.D., director of the UNM School of Medicine Institute for Public Health.

Children are getting less physical activity for a variety of reasons today, said Robert Ferraro, who runs Southwest Endocrinology and its Weight Management Center and is an adjunct professor in the UNM Health Sciences Center School of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine.  Statistics show that obesity has doubled among children and tripled among adolescents during the past two decades.  Obesity increases a person's risk for a variety of serious health conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer and Type 2 diabetes. 

Activities apart from the forum will include free cholesterol screenings at the Kimo, a downtown treasure hunt, bike rodeo and Chef tasting.   "We want to show people that there are options out there for them to increase exercise in their lives," said Mary Jayne Johnson Ph.D., Southwest Regional Health & Fitness Manager for New Mexico Sports & Wellness. 


Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322